Walgreens Pays $9.86 Million Resolving Whistleblower Claims Of Fraud Against California’s Medi-Cal Program, Reports Berger Montague
Berger Montague announced today the settlement of a False Claims Act case against Walgreen Co. (Walgreens) for $9.86 million to resolve allegations that Walgreens falsely billed California’s Medicaid Program, Medi-Cal. The settlement resolves allegations raised in two whistleblower lawsuits brought under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Berger Montague represented former Walgreens pharmacy technician, Debbie G. Rinehart, who was one of the two individuals to report the fraud.
Berger Montague shareholder Joy Clairmont commented, “Our whistleblower client, a former pharmacy technician who worked at Walgreens for nine years, was also a Medi-Cal beneficiary for a time. As such, she intimately understands the need for integrity in the Medi-Cal Program, and is satisfied to have helped contribute as a relator to this successful resolution.”
In 2014, Ms. Rinehart filed her suit under seal pursuant to the provisions of the Federal False Claims Act and California False Claims Act. The lawsuit alleged that Walgreens improperly billed Medi-Cal for certain prescription drugs, “Code 1” drugs, appearing on Medi-Cal’s formulary list. As alleged, Walgreens knowingly failed to comply with applicable “Code 1” drug restrictions and documentation requirements by failing to ensure that the drugs were prescribed for the requisite diagnoses prior to dispensing the drugs to Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The United States and the State of California intervened in the action for settlement.
Dan Miller, the co-chair of Berger Montague’s Qui Tam Practice Group, commended the government’s investigation and resolution of the case: “We applaud the outstanding efforts of Assistant United States Attorney Catherine J. Swann and her colleagues at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento as well as California’s Bureau of Medicaid Fraud and Elder Abuse who assisted in achieving this settlement.”
The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Debbie G. Rinehart v. Walgreen Co., Case No. 2:14-cv-0148 (E.D. Cal.).