A managed care company has agreed to pay a $44.4 million settlement after being accused of submitting excessive prescription drug bills to the Iowa Medicaid program.
Centene does not admit wrongdoing, but a news release from the Iowa Attorney General’s office indicates there were “irregularities” in the way a pharmacy benefits management company that’s a Centene subsidiary was billing for medications provided to Medicaid patients in Iowa. Centene, which operates under the name Iowa Total Care in Iowa, is one of three private companies that oversee care and billing for the 805,000 Iowans who are enrolled in the government’s Medicaid program.
Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, calls the settlement a “stark reminder” Medicaid privatization is not working.
“Let’s be clear,” Jochum said in a written statement. “…One of the private, for-profit companies Governor Reynolds put in charge of critical care for vulnerable Iowans defrauded our state.”
A spokesperson for Centene called the settlement a “no-fault agreement” that reflects the company’s commitment to continue its “relentless focus on delivering high-quality outcomes to our members.”
Attorney General Tom Miller’s office has announced a series of legal settlements for Iowa and other states in the last month, regarding allegations about the marketing of opioids.
“There’s going to be considerable money coming into Iowa and all the states to deal with opioids and that’s really important,” Miller says.
In late November, Miller announced opioid makers Teva and Allergan would pay the State of Iowa a $46.6 million settlement. Miller and his top deputy were the lead negotiators for all states in that case. The national settlement from these two companies is $6.6 billion.
Miller, who has served as Iowa’s attorney general for 40 years, lost his bid for an 11th term. Republican Brenna Bird’s term as attorney general begins in January.