A former employee for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), which is Arizona’s medicaid system, recently pleaded not guilty to charges of stealing an estimated $1.5 million from the program.
Michael Veit, 63, faces 42 counts of criminal charges regarding money laundering, trafficking, theft and fraud.
Before getting fired, Veit had been a state employee for 35 years and an AHCCCS employee for the last 27 years. His responsibilities included overseeing administrative functions regarding contracts for items such as facility office supplies, where his annual salary was $99,892. Previously, Veit worked for the Department of Corrections.
As a result of this arrest, a criminal investigation is underway by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Maricopa County. AHCCCS is also planning to begin an audit and review of its internal protocols that will be independently run.
Months before Veit’s arrest, a bill to create a new Office of State Inspector General died in the most recent legislative session.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey suggested creating a new office to help with state fraud, corruption and waste issues. It would work directly under the governor to investigate “the operations, management and affairs of state agencies,” including employee performance, The Arizona Republic reported.
The Office of State Inspector General would also have subpoena power and the ability to keep investigative records secret, which is one of the reasons why it wasn’t passed.
With Veit’s recent arrest, could Arizona benefit from a new, investigative state agency? Some will certainly use this case to support Ducey’s idea, while others believe that it would be unnecessary as the Attorney General already has the ability to investigate fraud.
What do you think? Would a new, investigative state office be a redundant addition or would it help keep Arizona honest?