UPDATE: Stick has been sentenced to six days in jail.
The man who famously carried a toy stuffed wolf into informal resolution meetings with Medicaid providers and quipped that he could “find a program violation on Jesus Christ” if Jesus were a Medicaid provider met a further comeuppance Monday. A Travis County jury found he was guilty of driving while impaired back in September 2012 when an Austin police officer pulled him over for erratic driving. Stick had been delaying the inevitable for three years.
Tried to invalidate DWI tests
During his short trial, Stick and his legal team argued that the police tests used to determine whether someone was impaired are not accurate and the police officer didn’t have probable cause to stop or arrest him. The jury didn’t buy it especially when Stick’s blood alcohol level was shown to have been above .08 – a test he refused but was forced to take. HIs lawyers had attempted to get the blood test results tossed too. Remember, back in 2012, when his arrest for DWI became public, he told the Texas Tribune that “blood tests and other evidence” would clear him.
Irony that former top Medicaid cop bucks the system he used
It is deliciously ironic that the former top lawyer for the Health and Human Services Commission and top Medicaid cop, in trying to weasel out of the DWI, should try to invalidate the enforcement tools used against him. Stick had felt no shame in promoting and defending the extrapolation methodology his agency used to create hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid overpayments that had been foisted on dental Medicaid providers and others.
Of course, the house started to come down when it became public knowledge that his OIG actuary Brad Nelson had allegedly used phony Excel spreadsheet calculations to create the amounts. Remember Dr. Rachel Trueblood settling $16 million of OIG claims for $39,000.
Blind to his own Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse
But, before this happened, Stick was able to parlay these extrapolations with the Texas legislature into millions of dollars of new funding for OIG so he could get lots of new staff and his new Medicaid fraud detection software from Austin’s 21CT. In fact, his bravado got him promoted to head attorney of HHSC, the state’s largest agency.
Stick felt so unassailable that he rewarded himself and his boss Doug Wilson with new $2,800 executive chairs and provided his investigators with impressive $80 new badges that he designed. He was even telling other states how great Texas was doing in finding Medicaid fraud and sharing his methodology.
He was concerned about the alleged Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse of others but blind to his own. The 21CT scandal finally illustrated this for everyone, not just Medicaid providers who he had kicked around with impunity.
Stick’s DWI case received national attention over the last year because of the stark contrast in how he was treated in comparison with Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg. Stick was promoted and received a hefty raise while Lehmberg who sucked it up and pled guilty came under political attack. Lehmberg at least showed personal integrity and honesty in taking her lumps while Stick disingenuously played the system trying to evade his obvious guilt and punishment which will be decided shortly.
Punishment to follow
He will receive between three and 100 days in Travis County Jail or up to two years’ probation and a $2,000 fine.
His fall is just and complete.