Firefighter Union Hits Back at City Over Fraud Investigation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The leadership of the union that represents Kansas City Missouri Firefighters are questioning the results of an investigation that led to the indictment of one of its members last December on charges of defrauding the city’s insurance provider.
According to prosecutors, the seven defendants – all KCMO or Jackson County employees, including an EMT employed by the KCMO Fire Department – engaged in a scheme to defraud their healthcare provider – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City – through a benefits program called Points to Blue. Under the program, members would receive points in exchange for engaging in healthy activities, and for every 1,000 points earned members would earn one dollar of credit towards either a gift card or preloaded debit card, up to an annual limit of $250 per member.
More points were awarded for more strenuous activities – for instance, running a marathon or triathlon could earn up to 10,000 points.
Prosecutors say that within the first six months of the program, the accused public workers began falsifying entries on the Points to Blue website in order to obtain the maximum gift card. The defendants would, in addition to making false entries on their own behalf, solicit coworkers to engage in the fraud scheme as well – submitting false activities on the behalf of a coworker or a coworker’s dependent in exchange for a portion of the $250 award.
The defendants in the case allegedly claimed that young children (often five years old or younger) competed in multiple marathons and triathlons. One defendant allegedly claimed that he participated in three duathlons, three marathons, two half-marathons, an Olympic lifting competition and four triathlons.
Prosecutors allege that as a result of the fraud scheme, 1,253 fraudulent gift cards were issued, totaling $310,960. But authorities say that as many as 100 people could be involved in the scheme in total.
On Wednesday, Firefighters Union Local #42 issued a statement that information gathered in the course of the investigation may not be accurate, and they are looking at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield program itself, along with the oversight of the program by City Hall administrators.
The union added that they are fully cooperating with all investigations, and if necessary will take any action at the appropriate time.
City officials declined to comment on the union’s statement.