On February 2, 2022, Jeanne Stagg, who works for United Healthcare of Louisiana’s Inpatient Utilization Management Department, blew the whistle on COVID-19 cases possibly being inflated for financial incentive. The brazen instance of such potential abuse was a patient who had multiple gunshot wounds with his primary diagnosis listed as COVID-19.
United Healthcare of Louisiana is the states’ Medicaid arm, and as the whistleblower Jeanne Stagg points out in a conversation with the Chief Medical Officer of United Healthcare of Louisiana, Dr. Julie Morial, there are several financial incentives for hospitals to prefer to code patients as COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“Well maybe that’s… maybe that’s driving some of the motivation,” said Dr. Morial before stating that the Medicaid rate for reimbursement of COVID-19 patients is both higher and faster.
Project Veritas also published footage of a leadership call within United Healthcare of Louisiana wherein the whistleblower’s attempt to discuss the improper primary diagnoses she is seeing was dismissed.
A major element of this story was the fact that recent actions by public officials have allowed the problem to persist, and the whistleblower believes erroneous codes could be the cause of COVID-19 spikes which influence major public health decisions.
A health plan advisory, which announced that all utilization management for all medical hospitalizations [including but not limited to initial service authorization and concurrent reviews], must be suspended was the action taken -- which is in question.
“Now, this is not specific to COVID-19. This is every single hospital admission. We’re not allowed to do medical necessity review. So, it gives the hospitals free reign to admit anything they want. Code it however they want,” says the whistleblower, Jeanne Stagg.
United Healthcare of Louisiana’s Dr. Morial was contacted for comment on this story and said, “When I see a patient, and if a patient is presenting other symptoms that aren't suggestive of a COVID infection, even though they may test positive for COVID, that's not my primary diagnosis.”