Woman, 87, Convinces New York She's Not Dead

Her Medicaid benefits were cut off due to computer error
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2015 5:40 PM CDT
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The New York City Bureau of Fraud Investigation sent a letter last week announcing that Medicaid health benefits for Selma Cohen had been cut off because the woman had been declared dead. So you can imagine the surprise Cohen, 87, felt when she received the letter. "I couldn’t believe it," the Brooklyn woman tells the New York Daily News. "At first I thought it was a joke or something." She called the bureau and was told to visit a local Medicaid office, where a clerk told her there had been a computer error—but that Cohen would have to apply for and receive a state ID in order to prove she is, in fact, alive. "When you’re dead, they don’t send you checks," she says.

Cohen, who had already paid her Medicaid premium through December but had to cancel a doctor's appointment when the doctor confirmed she was no longer covered by Medicaid, was "extremely frustrated," noting that she didn't have time for the weeks-long process and was concerned she'd also stop receiving her Social Security benefits and food stamps. The cut-off would also prevent her from visiting doctors and paying for much-needed cancer medication, CBS New York reports. But as of Monday, Cohen's Medicaid benefits were reinstated after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office stepped in. Cohen will also be reimbursed for the time she had been deemed dead. (Medicaid recently paid more than $30,000 in an attempt to wean a newborn baby girl off heroin.)

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