The fact that Republicans are largely responsible for perpetuating the stereotype of the welfare queen who lives it up while receiving government benefits makes the case of North Carolina Republican Senator Wesley Meredith an interesting one. According to ABC11, Meredith’s challenger for the 19th District Senate seat revealed that Meredith’s family received Medicaid benefits during the late-1990s when Meredith’s annual salary was more than six-figures. Bill Richardson, the challenger, released financial and public assistance documents proving his claims.
Meredith’s ex-wife, Elizabeth, confirmed that the documents and information were authentic. The couple apparently applied for and receive both Medicaid and WIC benefits in 1996 despite Wesley Meredith having a gross income of more than $100,000. To receive the government assistance they applied for, requirements were for income to be less than $19,800.
This revelation is particularly interesting as North Carolina Republicans have consistently blocked Medicaid expansion through Obamacare that would extend health coverage to thousands of North Carolina residents who desperately need it. Meredith has blamed his ex-wife Elizabeth for the application for benefits, but Elizabeth says that the two went to Cumberland County Social Services and applied for Medicaid benefits together. Meredith has said that the release of the documents amount to a personal attack by his opponent and that his name did not appear on any documents Richardson provided to the Department of Social Services (DSS).
An investigation was opened by DSS and expedited. Meredith is reporting that the case has been closed, but no information has been provided about whether or not the case was founded or unfounded or whether there was some kind of settlement. Neither state or county officials have confirmed the closure saying they are unable to comment due to state law protecting personal information. Medicaid fraud is considered a civil matter and can therefore be resolved through voluntary repayment or property liens without any criminal charges resulting.
In response to how the allegations have been handled, Richardson says there are still many unanswered questions and that voters deserve to know the truth. Richardson states, “We have someone who may have worked the system to help himself, while slashing funds for working families who need help.”