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Cuyahoga County providing health benefits to those who shouldn’t be covered: I-Team

CLEVELAND-- The FOX 8 I-Team is asking hard questions about your tax dollars that Cuyahoga County leaders can’t answer.

Your tax dollars pay for health benefits for Cuyahoga County workers and their families. But the I-Team has found the county has no idea how much of your money has also been paying for county health benefits for people who weren’t supposed to be covered.

The I -Team obtained an audit that said a spot check revealed “…no documentation…to show employees and dependents…were verified for eligibility…”

We went to Douglas Dykes, the head of Cuyahoga County’s Department of Human Resources. We asked him how many people were on the plan who shouldn’t have been getting benefits.

“We don’t have that number," Dykes said. He also couldn’t tell us the cost to taxpayers.

Dykes said the county hired a new firm to oversee health benefits and make sure everyone covered deserves it. He said the county is just beginning to determine how many people  shouldn’t have been getting benefits with your money and why they were.

Meantime, the I-Team also found workers told the county “…will not be taking action…” against anyone who shouldn’t have been getting benefits.

“You know what? We’re not into being punitive. We’re not into going back and disciplining people because there are a lot of situations that could’ve happened," Dykes said.

The I-Team started looking into this because we heard from multiple county workers. They said they went to meetings about benefits, and they were told changes had been made because of fraud and corruption.

"So what happened in the past, not sure, but we’re fixing it. We have found some clerical errors. So it wasn’t the employees' problem that had the benefits," Dykes said.

The county said it’ll take months to sort through this.

Ultimately, officials will compare the employees and dependents signed up under the new system against those signed up under the old system. When pressed, Dykes said evidence of fraud will be prosecuted. But he could not say how far back the county will look or how deeply.