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North Dakota WSI Still Corrupt and Unaccountable PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Sunday, 26 February 2012 07:22

WSI_YBRThe Fargo Forum has two separate stories about the ongoing criminal activity by leadership at North Dakota's workers' compensation agency, Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI). First, WSI's management has been pressuring its medical director to alter opinions he had expressed in injured workers' records, so WSI could hide the fact that their own internal medical director had said things supportive of the injured workers' claim for benefits.

Dr. Luis Vilella, the medical director for Workforce Safety and Insurance, said he refused to change his medical opinions when asked to do so on two occasions in February or March of 2010.

Fargo Forum

It is a felony for a public employee to tamper with a government record such as the ones with which Vilella was being ordered to tamper. 

Vilella believed he was being pressured to use “false, fraudulent, or deceptive statement in any document connected with the practice of medicine."  He was concerned enough about the issue that he sought advice from North Dakota's Board of Medical Examiners.  The Board has apparently not yet provided advice to Vilella on whether or not he can be disciplined by the board if he gives in to the pressure from WSI leadership and tampers with injured workers' medical records.

In a second story, another WSI employee has been trying for several months to get WSI to stop tampering with other WSI records that are favorable to injured workers.  Barb Frohlich has uncovered instances where the tampering has actually taken place, and she has tried to get WSI management to acknowledge it has happened, fix it, and stop.  

An employee of North Dakota’s workers’ compensation program contends laws were violated when a claims supervisor ordered the deletion of a worker’s electronic medical record.

Barbara Frohlich, who acts as a liaison between Workforce Safety and Insurance, the workers’ comp program, and medical providers, reported the Aug. 18 incident with the agency’s online fraud reporting system.

The deleted record was a nurse case manager’s computer notepad entry and would have been favorable to the acceptance of the worker’s claim for benefits, Frohlich said.

Fargo Forum

Frohlich has sought help from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and the Burleigh County States Attorney to get the criminal activity at WSI to be corrected. So far she is getting "the run-around."  

The Fargo Forum's Pat Springer is one of only three investigative journalists in North Dakota, and he deserves credit for breaking these two stories.  But there is a part of this story that Springer hasn't written, and I suspect he can't.  So I'm going to.

North Dakota's Workforce Safety and Insurance has not changed even slightly in the past five years. They still have the exact same culture of corruption they had 5 years ago, when a different group of honorable people tried to stop criminal activity engaged in by management. The only thing that has changed is that two new, overpaid and unqualified figure-heads get monthly paychecks now. Klipfel and Carlson serve one function: they are a buffer between the public and the corrupt real WSI leadership that continues to act like a bunch of criminals, and these two stories are just the tip of the iceberg.

When the public learns about criminal activity in state agencies that are supposed to help North Dakotans, true leaders would call for a lot of firings in those state agencies.  Instead, what we've come to expect in North Dakota is cover-up, cover-up and more cover-up.

If WSI even bothers to pretend to want to do something about this, look for yet another in-the-bag, corrupt, external auditor to be asked to come in and write-up a bullshit audit report relating to this newly exposed internal corruption at WSI. 

Maybe WSI's management should get John Hoeven, Bob Indvik and Sandy Blunt and tell them they're getting the band back together. They seem to think they're above the law; on a mission from God (though Blunt may be too busy continuing his own mission from God).

Comments (12)add comment

What the Heck said:

the bigger picture
Springer also fails to ask the question as to how far these people will go to deny claims, if they're bullying doctors into altering medical records, what else are they doing? What about the potential for a multi-million $ insurance fraud? How will anyone ever know for sure until there is a completely transparent and impartial external review performed?

SAO, you've dropped the ball. WSI Board, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Hoeven, Dalrymple and corrupt politicians who support this kind of activity should be impeached. Too late for Hoeven, but Dalrymple is apparently cut from the same cloth. Despicable.
February 26, 2012
Votes: +6

Chet said:

In Springers' defense...
You're right, but he is writing fact-based news, not an opinion piece. Opinions should be on op/ed page, unless someone he interviewed said it. (And they should have.) The editors of the Forum and other papers need to point out these things that are obvious, though not necessarily provable (yet). How are you going to prove something like this when WSI's response to something like this is to lock down the building, tell people their jobs are on the line and refusal to let any employee talk to the cops without a criminal co-conspirator in the room?

For example, it seems obvious that if you have it in your soul (or the empty place where most people have a soul) to pressure your highest paid employee to deny an injured worker benefits he/she is entitled to receive, you'd also have it in you to pressure every claims manager too. (What professional board could a claims manager go to if he/she was worried about the illegality of doing something the boss ordered him/her to do? The WSI Legal Department?!? Ha!)

But a reporter who's reporting facts can't really put that in a story. I can, because it seems obvious and my hands aren't tied like Springers' are. And I've been told the same thing from inside sources. Seen it on paper, too.

I plan to write more about this once I get a chance to collect records. Can't do much of that on a Sunday. Stay tuned.
February 26, 2012
Votes: +5

What the Heck said:

no disrect to Springer
He's a diligent investigative reporter who himself has been attacked by WSI and their minions. It's obvious he is passionate about the great social injustice that is WSI. My frustration is mostly with SAO that they have failed to do what is necessary to get to the truth. Stop contracting with outside firms to do the work that they themselves should be doing. Theoretically they have the power to audit. With multiple indicators of fraud, I would argue they have an obligation.
February 26, 2012
Votes: +0

Chet said:

Hüsker Dü?
Don't forget: the Governor is ultimately responsible for what's going on at WSI. His office knows about these crimes, as does (obviously) the Attorney General. If we're going to start pointing fingers, we need to start by pointing our collective fingers at the Governor and his people for knowingly allowing the corrupt leadership to stay on after their last criminal scandal. And it's not surprising at all to hear that Wayne Stenehjem doesn't think his buddies at WSI have committed crimes. He's made it his life's work to cover up crimes at WSI and other state agencies.

Nothing to see here. Move along.
February 26, 2012
Votes: +5

big jake said:

What a shocker!!!! This is about as predictable as you can get. They were vindicated in Court, public opinion reflected the right wing nonsense and a continuation of a misguided view that anyone who submits a claim is a cheat, the press ignored all of this.

This is a blank check for WSI. Why would they change? I have not heard any news lately as do claim denials except that most have been so discouraged that they just say why even try. This is beyond shameful, it is criminal. It has spread into our higher ed system. Corruption is a corrosive and contagious syndrome. I never dreamed that my home state would ever do anything like this. Call me naive.
February 26, 2012
Votes: +3

Tortoise Crossing said:

claim acceptance rates reported by WSI to have dropped to 90%
Big Jake, check out the most recent quarterly operating report posted on the www.workforcesafety.com website. Claim acceptance rates have dropped to 90%. That has got to be a record low.
February 26, 2012
Votes: +0

Michael Jon Gaarder said:

Nothing New To Me
After dealing with WSI first hand as an injured worker these stories come to me as no surprise. In fact Dr. Luis Vilella has his name on some of my files, and with the severity of my injury I am sure he might have been pressured then to do some modifications.

Dealing with claims manager G. Leer (Gary Leer) and his fatuous acts I have no doubt that WSI has a form of manipulation that the extrude into any case that might be extremely costly to WSI’s profits. I have questioned the way they have taken items out of context within my records.

Fraudulent and deceptive is exactly what WSI is, in fact I believe that is their internal motto!
February 27, 2012
Votes: +6

big jake said:

Paranoid or not, I still believe that Blunt has enough dirt to sink the whole ship here. His time might come sooner than later. One can only hope.
February 28, 2012
Votes: +3

What the Heck said:

won't happen, Big Jake
He's too beholden to the 'industry'. He has work comp bigwigs on his side, wouldn't dare alienate them by rocking the boat. It's a very small industry.
February 28, 2012
Votes: +1

madaretac said:

Ex truck driver chewed up and spit out by the ND oilpatch
I am currently fighting for my life because of this corruption. I sure wish I could get someone on my side. I had a lawyer in Bismarck but had to back to Washington and now being permenantly disabled and destitute, I don't have the resources. Dear God I need help!! I get one more chance to speak on my own behalf at an upcoming phone hearing in May. I am praying for victory. - A.C.
March 24, 2014
Votes: +3

Danette Iverson said:

I want to know if we can sue ND WSI
As with the other trucker who was injured on Tue the job in ND oil fields so was my husband. I am still having to jump thru their phoney hoops to prove he was injured on the job. We have no income at this time and I am sure that is what they try to make sure of by not allowing attorneys until you get to the District Court part of a claim? Anyone else looking to try to sue them besides me? I do not just want to go after WSI anymore but the whole darn state.....
July 10, 2014
Votes: +3

WSI_is_unethical said:

First thing anyone injured on a job in nortb dakota needs to do is get there "doctors" to write a referral to your ow person doctor.do not and.i mean dont use occupation health.as your.medical provider no matter what.
September 10, 2014
Votes: +1

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