According to CBS News in New York, Selma Cohen, 87, of Midwood, Brooklyn, received a troubling letter in the mail from the Bureau of Fraud Investigation, notifying her that she had lost all of her health benefits.
The reason? She’s dead.
“I said it must be wrong,” Cohen said. “You know, maybe it’s a joke or something.”
Unfortunately for her, the letter was not an elaborate prank. After a call to Medicaid, it was determined that a computer error led to the mix-up.
While making the mistake was simple, Cohen found that undoing the damage was not as easy.
She said that the Medicaid office in Crown Heights told her they could not help her, and she would have to go to the Social Security office to prove she is indeed alive. The process could take weeks, and Cohen said she simply cannot wait that long.
In 2015, about 11 million people are enrolled in Medicaid, up from eight million in 2014. The NY Department of Health defines Medicaid as a social health program intended to aid those with low income and limited resources who cannot afford the standard costs of medical care.
According to the NY Daily News, Cohen claims that earlier correspondence from Medicaid indicated she was approved for medical coverage through at least Dec. 31.
She has had two major surgeries over the last 15 years to treat anal and thyroid cancer, and was forced to cancel a recent doctor’s appointment because her Medicaid coverage was terminated. Cohen also believes her Social Security benefits could be shut off.
“So I probably won’t get my check this week. And I get food stamps, so I didn’t go food shopping the last few days. I don’t know if they stopped already my food stamps,” she said. “They’re not going to give me food stamps if I’m dead.”
A rep for City Hall said that officials are currently reviewing the case. “If there is an error we will take steps to correct [it],” a spokeswoman wrote in an email.
In the meantime, maybe Cohen can go around and wreak some havoc on the city. After all, you can’t arrest a dead person.