Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A man goes into a public assistance office in Charleston, South Carolina in a kilt, tells them he’s a member of the Irish Republican Army and asks for help for 25 fellow Irishmen in a hospital who need Medicaid.
A government employee follows the rules and explains the process for filling out a Medicaid paperwork and the qualifications they’d need to meet. She informs them that a federal law intended to protect patient privacy requires her not to divulge any information he’s told her.
So what happens next? James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas releases a deceptively edited video that makes the woman look like a terrorist sympathizer, though it isn’t even clear if she knows the background of the IRA.
In the edited version, the woman says it would not be in her best interest to divulge anything because she could not afford it and she doesn’t want to go to jail. As it turns out, that’s what she’s supposed to do under the law.
To his credit, O’Keefe posted the full unedited video of the “sting” directly after the edited version. Which makes it all the more curious that Project Veritas edited the tape in a way that paints the government employee in a bad light.
“Like I said, someone would have to come here and subpoena our information in order for us to divulge any information, because like I said there’s something called the Health Insurance Accountability and Affordability Act — or portability — and anyway it went into effect several years ago, and that’s what we follow,” she said in the unedited video.
“It is federal law, and they do threaten high fines — which they don’t pay me as much per year as they threaten to fine me — so it is definitely not in my own best interest to divulge anything to anyone because I cannot afford it, I do not want to go to jail,” she said.
But even if baiting low level bureaucrats into saying slightly embarrassing things is O’Keefe’s goal — the woman featured in the latest video had to write her own name on her business cards — he’s only been moderately successful.
The South Carolina Heath & Human Services employee explains that only U.S. citizens are eligible for Medicaid and says she’s not making any promises that the 25 purported IRA members would qualify.
“The way it works with Medicaid is if you are just a visitor to the United States you can’t qualify,” she says. “If they’re going to stay in the United States then we could potentially qualify them for emergency services to cover with their hospitalization.” She even tells him that the hospital’s charity program might be a better bet.
The edited video, followed by the longer unedited clip, is embedded below.