Mississippi officials are investigating whether Fortune 500 company Centene and possibly other firms may have significantly overcharged taxpayers as they managed billions of dollars worth of state Medicaid health insurance benefits.
The Mississippi Division of Medicaid confirmed the probe to the Daily Journal on Monday. Medicaid officials said the attorney general’s office hired outside attorneys to “investigate and potentially pursue claims” that include Centene’s management of pharmacy benefits.
The investigation is in the early stages but is similar to a recently-announced Ohio lawsuit against Centene, said Colby Jordan, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Lynn Fitch. In that case, authorities allege Centene overcharged Ohio taxpayers by millions of dollars.
In Mississippi’s Medicaid managed care system, Centene subsidiary Magnolia Health and two other contractors oversee health insurance benefits for about 480,000 poor adults and children, disabled people, pregnant women, and others. The Division of Medicaid pays the companies a set rate per patient.
Mississippi investigation similar to Ohio lawsuit
In September, Fitch’s office retained Ridgeland-based law firm Liston & Deas to investigate possible Medicaid financial losses due to unnamed managed care firms, according to a contract between the two parties. The document mentions possible “fraud, waste, incorrect payment, or overpayment.”
Liston & Deas is the same firm working with the Ohio attorney general’s office in its lawsuit against Centene. That lawsuit is sealed, but a March 11 news release from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost claims Centene – through its Ohio subsidiary Buckeye Health Plan – used a network of pharmacy benefit subcontractors to inflate costs.
“Corporate greed has led Centene and its wholly owned subsidiaries to fleece taxpayers out of millions,” Yost said in the release.
The Ohio suit, according to Yost, alleges three areas of wrongdoing.. Continue Reading