By Seth Klamann
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
CASPER — Gov. Mark Gordon said he “firmly supports” the state Health Department’s director amid allegations that a 2015 Medicaid fraud investigation was obstructed by various government officials, a charge that has been denied by those involved.
“The Governor firmly supports Mike Ceballos, the Director of the Wyoming Department of Health and his ability to administer the agency’s programs, including Medicaid,” Gordon’s spokesman, Michael Pearlman, said in a statement to the Star-Tribune.
Gordon’s statement comes less than a week after Mark Gaskill, the state’s former Medicaid watchdog, publicly accused a previous state attorney general and unnamed health officials of obstructing his investigation into health care fraud in northwestern Wyoming. The state inquiry contributed to the criminal investigation of psychologist Gibson Condie, who pleaded guilty to health care fraud in 2017. Three more men with ties to Condie were indicted in September on fraud and racketeering charges.
Gaskill was fired from the Health Department in May 2016, several months after his investigation into the fraud began. He maintains that his termination was prompted by his refusal to let the investigation “go away.” He has also alleged a similar investigation, launched in 2009 against the same provider, was similarly obstructed.
Ceballas said in a statement last week that he supported and had continued confidence in Teri Green, the current state Medicaid director who also ran the program when Gaskill was with the department. Ceballos also called Gaskill’s allegations “unfair and untrue.”
Pearlman, the governor’s spokesman, said Gordon had “reviewed the incidents that took place” and that Gordon had confidence in Ceballos and in the Attorney General’s Office.
Asked if Gordon had any comment specific to Gaskill’s allegations of obstruction, Pearlman said he didn’t think Gordon wanted to “personally wade into those allegations.”
“He is comfortable letting the director and the folks whose job it is to do that,” the spokesman added.
Current Attorney General Bridget Hill, who was appointed earlier this year and did not overlap with Gaskill or his investigations, previously said her office was “aware of Mr. Gaskill’s allegations and believe them to be categorically false.”
The Health Department has declined to comment on Gaskill’s termination, saying it’s a personnel matter.
Kim Deti, a spokeswoman for the agency, told the Star-Tribune that the department was “confident there has been no wrongdoing at the Wyoming Department of Health related to these matters.”
She added that earlier this fall, in response to Gaskill’s “communications with policymakers,” Ceballos and other agency officials “reviewed information, materials and timelines” related to Gaskill’s 2015 investigation into Medicaid fraud in Powell.
That review included meeting with the Attorney General’s Office and the Governor’s Office, Deti said.
“Director Ceballos determined that all referrals made by the program integrity unit while it was led by Mr. Gaskill were appropriately handled,” she wrote in an email in response to questions from the Star-Tribune. She described Ceballos’ review of Gaskill’s investigation as an effort “to better understand what had occurred before his tenure.”