The superintendent presented the ill student as her son so he could receive proper medical treatment
A superintendent in Indiana allegedly used her own health insurance to help a sick student — and now she’s facing charges of insurance fraud. She says she just wanted to help the young boy, who was ill.
Casey Smitherman, the superintendent of Elwood Community Schools in Elwood, Indiana, was booked on charges of insurance fraud, identity deception, and official misconduct earlier this week. She has since been released on bail.
According to Smitherman, she paid a visit to the student’s home after he failed to show up at school. “I went to his home to check on him, and he told me that he had not felt well enough to come to school,” she says in a statement to WISH-TV.
“After making sure he had eaten, I could tell he had some of the symptoms of strep throat. As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated, and I took him to an emergency clinic.”
After the boy was refused treatment at an emergency clinic as a result of being uninsured, Smitherman took him to another one — but this time, she presented him as her son. He received treatment and a prescription for Amoxicillin.
“I knew he did not have insurance, and I wanted to do all I could to help him get well,” she says. “I know this action was wrong. In the moment, my only concern was for this child’s health.”
She maintains her only concern was for the child’s health. After turning herself in to Elwood police, she agreed to enter a “diversion program,” which means all felony charges will be dropped as long as she avoids arrest for one year.
The American healthcare system is, at best, abysmal for anyone who doesn’t fall in the one percent, top tier of wealth. While yes, this woman clearly broke the law — and knows she did so — she was desperate to help a sick minor in need. People who can’t afford to have health insurance should not be left to suffer, and in some cases, die, because of their financial circumstances. Neither should they be turned away from quality medical care.
The Elwood School District board president, Bret Kane, issued a statement of support for Smitherton, who will remain in her position as superintendent.
“Dr. Smitherman has tirelessly worked for the best interests of all students in Elwood Community Schools since she was hired,” he says. “She made an unfortunate mistake, but we understand that it was out of concern for this child’s welfare. We know she understands how what she did was wrong, and she continues to have our full support in continuing in her position.”
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