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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 19, 2014
Former Wellcare Chief Executive Sentenced for Health Care Fraud


Former WellCare Chief Executive Officer Todd S. Farha, 45, of Tampa, Florida, was sentenced today in the Middle District of Florida to serve 36 months in prison for defrauding the Florida Medicaid program.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida made the announcement after Farha was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr.

Farha was convicted by a federal jury in the Middle District of Florida on June 10, 2013, of two counts of health care fraud.

According to court records and evidence at trial, Farha and others orchestrated a scheme to defraud the Florida Medicaid program from the summer of 2003 through the fall of 2007 by making fraudulent statements relating to expenditures for behavioral health care services.

WellCare operates health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in several states providing services through government-sponsored health care benefit programs like Medicaid.  Two WellCare HMOs operating in Florida, StayWell and Healthease, contracted with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the Florida agency that administers the Medicaid program, to provide Florida Medicaid program recipients with an array of services, including behavioral health services.

In 2002, Florida enacted a statute that required Florida Medicaid HMOs to expend 80 percent of the Medicaid premium paid for certain behavioral health services upon the provision of those services. In the event that the HMO expended less than 80 percent of the premium, the difference was required to be returned to AHCA. As part of the scheme, Farha and others fraudulently submitted inflated expenditure information in the company’s annual reports to AHCA to reduce the WellCare HMOs’ contractual repayment obligations for behavioral health care services.

On May 5, 2009 the government filed related charges in an information and a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) against WellCare. Pursuant to that DPA, WellCare was required to pay $40 million in restitution, forfeit another $40 million to the United States and cooperate with the government’s criminal investigation.  The company complied with all of the requirements of the DPA.   As a result, the information was later dismissed by the court following a government motion.   In a related civil qui tam case, Wellcare agreed to pay $137.5 million in civil fines and penalties.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the FBI, and the Florida Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.  The case was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney John Michelich of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant United States Attorneys Jay Trezevant and Cherie Krigsman and Special Assistant United States Attorney John Bowers of the Middle District of Florida.

 

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