Man Steals Identity to Fund Heart Surgery

Mentally-disabled friend billed for buddy's $350,000 operation
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 22, 2008 11:30 AM CDT
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where John Parsons had his surgery.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A Chicago man allegedly nicked the identity of a mentally disabled friend to fund a $350,000 heart bypass operation, say police. John Parsons, 57, was sure he would die without the surgery, said a relative; the alleged scam was uncovered after a caregiver began receiving copies of expenses billed to the man's Medicaid account. Mental-health advocates condemned the incident, while some remain confused by the case.

“You can't just walk in with somebody's Medicaid card like it's a credit card,” said a Medicaid rep. “A doctor would need to know blood type, medical history, and other records that just couldn't be faked.” The hospital will cover the cost of the surgery, but “unlike credit-card fraud where you can go back and seize that toaster or television they bought, how do you go back in there and get somebody's heart?” asked a police officer.