Dr Tom Coburn defends his record as state Democrats accuse him of fraud

Wednesday, September 15th 2004, 10:16 am
By: News On 6

US Senate candidate Doctor Tom Coburn denies a claim by Democrats that he defrauded Medicaid.

The allegation comes out of an old malpractice lawsuit and News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan spoke with Coburn about the allegations Wednesday. Coburn is angry over the charges which he says had no merit then and still don't today.

The allegations were first reported by the Internet magazine "Salon" as part of a long attack on Coburn's record. The article claims Coburn "filed an apparently fraudulent Medicaid claim" and then "covered up a scandal."

Coburn says it's much simpler than it sounds. "You're taking an unfounded accusation from a sleazy liberal dot com and making it something real.” Coburn was sued for an emergency operation he performed in 1990. A woman with a life threatening entopic pregnancy claimed Coburn tied her tubes without her consent.

Coburn denied the charge and the lawsuit was dismissed. “This woman asked me to tie her tubes 2 times before and I didn't do it, and this woman was sitting there dying with a belly full of blood and if I had done it before, she wouldn't have been in that situation, so when she asked me this time, I did it, and I would do it again.”

The Democrats say the unproven claims from the lawsuit make Coburn unfit for office. Jay Parmley, Oklahoma Democratic Party: "The people of Oklahoma deserve to be represented by a senator who's honest and forthright and who practices what he preaches." The Democrats claim depositions from the lawsuit show Coburn defrauded the government by not disclosing he did part of the procedure for free. “Doctor Coburn performed a procedure on a patient where he then had to fill out Medicare forms and he didn't disclose everything.”

Coburn says it's nothing more than a political attack. The Democrats admit it's a story they've been pushing. "This has been out there for years; it's always been rumored, back when he ran for Congress we tried to get some traction on it."

The lawsuit was dismissed and Medicaid never paid Coburn for the full procedure - just the emergency operation. The Democrats claim Medicaid wouldn't have paid for any of it had it known Coburn did tied both tubes.