Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Prosecutors play WellCare tapes in Medicaid fraud trial

TAMPA — Jurors in a high-profile Medicaid fraud case heard on Monday the secretly recorded conversations that lie at the heart of the federal prosecutors' allegations against four former WellCare executives.

On the 2007 video and audio recordings, a handful of WellCare employees are heard discussing the state's request for the insurer to put price tags on the mental health services it purchased with government Medicaid money.

But something clouded the issue: WellCare's two HMOs had been paying a third company, called Harmony, which was also owned by WellCare. That left the WellCare managers figuring out how to answer the question.

The resulting conversations, recorded by a whistle-blower, contained little drama and no outright gotcha moments. But prosecutors have said that the complicated calculations the recording captures illustrate a company trying to hide profit it would otherwise have to refund to the state.

On Monday, one of the prosecution's key witnesses, former WellCare senior financial planner Greg West, testified that the letter that WellCare eventually sent to the state reflected a desire to keep its set-up under wraps.

"It was explaining the pricing method without explaining Harmony," said West, whose voice is heard on the recordings. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit Medicaid fraud in 2007 and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors to get a lighter punishment.

Defense attorneys for the four executives are expected to get their first turn today at questioning West.

Former chief executive Todd Farha and four other former executives were indicted in 2011 on charges of conspiracy to commit Medicaid fraud and making false statements.

Prosecutors say WellCare took Medicaid money from the state with the understanding that if it did not use 80 percent of the funds allotted for behavioral health services, the difference was to be returned to the state.

But WellCare executives conspired to inflate what they actually spent in order to reduce the amount they had to return, say prosecutors, who contend WellCare shortchanged the state by at least $30 million.

Prosecutors play WellCare tapes in Medicaid fraud trial 03/18/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 8:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108