AG recovers Medicaid over payments while battling lawmakers over - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

AG recovers Medicaid over payments while battling lawmakers over stripping agency powers

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Attorney General announced that tens of millions of dollars have been recovered after a pharmaceutical company overcharged Medicaid.

It is a legal action, 12 years in the making, that Jim Hood says lawmakers are trying to undermine by introducing bills to undercut his ability to go after companies defrauding the state.

"Leave the AG alone. Let the Attorney General do his or her job. It's the job of the office," urged Hood.

It is a warning to lawmakers after his office recovered over $33 million from pharmaceutical manufacturer Watson Incorporated, now Actavis.

According to the AG, Watson inflated its Medicaid prices 1000 percent, costing the state taxpayers more than $7 million.

When the company reported Average Wholesale Prices (AWPs) attorneys found that Watson grossly exceeded the actual price the company charged its customers.

It resulted in Mississippi overpaying for prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients.

The trial court awarded the state statutory and punitive damages of $33,408,546.72.

But Hood is also frustrated over House Bills 1238 and 1475 which he says are aimed at stripping his office the power to prosecute and recover money from companies like Watson.

"I want to know why legislators are over there trying to take the authority of the attorney general when we're bringing in money, and these people are not innocent defendants," said Hood. "I hadn't seen a case yet that we've had dismissed because we win them." 

To date, the AG's office reports $3 billion in recoveries since he took office in 2004.

There are eight attorneys in the civil litigation division handling cases throughout the state. Hood also hires outside counsel to help try cases like that of Watson Pharmaceuticals. 

"I couldn't do it without those lawyers," said the state's legal counsel. "Now they're bringing in billions, and those lawyers have been paid a small percentage of what we recover in comparison to what regular citizens got to pay".

Hood said the state constitution gives him the authority to files cases to recoup funds, and no oversight is needed.

Meanwhile, he urges voters to contact representatives and senators about the bills he calls dangerous, that could potentially disrupt future settlements and negotiations.

The payment from Watson Incorporated is expected in about two weeks.

It includes $8,143,572.42 in compensatory damages, $5,241,000 in Civil penalties and $20,023,974.23 in Punitive damages.

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