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article imageHealth Care Company Scams Floridians out of Millions

By David Silverberg     Feb 14, 2009 in Politics
A Tampa Bay health-care management company has cheated thousands of Floridians through overpayments, suspected fraud and inflated expenditures. WellCare Health Plans has also pumped money into the Republican Party to get favourable legislation.
Florida's pained Medicaid system isn't the only chip in the facade. A Tampa company under investigation by federal and state agencies has now been revealed as a major lobbyist in the past four years, lining the pockets of Republicans.
The Associated Press
found that Wellcare Health Plans and its subsidiaries and executives spent $2.4 million on political contributions in the 2004 and 2006 elections. Around 95 percent of those funds funneled to Republicans, who pushed forward a plan that flows more state and federal Medicaid spending than ever through private companies like WellCare.
Example? WellCare donated $100,000 to the Republican Party of Florida on Dec. 6, 2005. That is one day after the Legislature convened specifically to consider the Medicaid proposals, and days before those bills passed. AP found that WellCare spent seven times more on lobbying than its top two competitors combined.
WellCare is well-known to consumer advocates - and news watchers. In October 2007, WellCare offices were raided by the FBI and Florida regulators. They found that the company inflated expenditures by submitting fake documents to the state. Under some mental health care contracts, WellCare was given a flat per-patient fee and required to spend at least 80 percent of it on care for patients. Any leftover amount beyond 20 percent was to be repaid to the state, AP reported, but the fake expenditures allowed WellCare to keep that surplus.
So far, no criminal charges have been announced against WellCare or its officials. Investigations by Florida, Connecticut and federal prosecutors are still taking place and the Securities and Exchange Commission is leading an informal investigation.
More about Wellcare, Health care, Medicaid, Florida, Scam
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