Law enforcement investigating massive Medicaid records breach

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By Chris Sardelli

State law enforcement officials are investigating a massive of leak of personal information that could affect hundreds of thousands of Medicaid customers.

The leak was discovered earlier this month within the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office press release. Local authorities found out about the leak on Thursday, April 19, though information about the breach was released earlier in the Columbia area. 

The DHHS announced that an employee working for the Medicaid program inappropriately transferred portions of personal information from more than 228,000 beneficiaries to his personal email, the release said. 

The transfer was discovered the week of April 9 during an agency performance review, and the employee was soon fired. The breach of DHHS files was the largest of its kind in the history of the agency, the release said.

DHHS reported that the transferred information dates back to January 2012 and includes names, phone numbers, addresses, birth dates and Medicaid ID numbers. In 22,604 of the cases, Medicare numbers, which contain Social Security numbers, were also linked to beneficiaries’ names. 

About 90 percent of the beneficiaries live in six counties, which includes Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Lexington, Orangeburg and Richland counties, though thousands of beneficiaries were from other counties. 

Despite the leak, DHHS representatives have said that no private medical records or financial information were involved.

The S.C. Law Enforcement Division is investigating the breach and the DHHS employee is facing charges from SLED. Other state and federal agencies have been alerted to the breach, though it is unknown if any other charges will be filed. 

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is not involved in the investigation and urges residents to call SLED with any questions about the investigation. 

DHHS agents are sending letters to all affected beneficiaries, who are advised to call 1-888-829-6561. To find out more information about the breach, visit www.mymedicaid.org. 


 Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416