Sink Says Outside Audit Of WellCare Is Needed
By Jerome R. Stockfisch, Tampa Tribune, Fla.
Jul. 26–TAMPA — Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has called for an independent audit to ensure that Florida receives “every last dime” that WellCare Health Plans owes the state.
WellCare acknowledged this week that it understated the amount of refunds it owes state governments by $49 million and would revise its financial reports going back to 2004.
The Tampa-based company, which administers Medicare and Medicaid programs nationwide, receives premiums from states to provide medical and health benefits. It is required to spend a minimum percentage of the premiums on care; when it spends less, it is required to refund all or some portion back to the states.
WellCare identified Florida’s Healthy Kids program; a behavioral health component of a contract with the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration; and an Illinois program as the three parties involved in its accounting errors.
Sink, who as state CFO serves as chairwoman of the Healthy Kids program’s board of directors, said she has asked agency executive director Rich Robleto to retain third-party auditors to verify the amount owed.
WellCare is under investigation by federal authorities and was the subject of an October raid of its Henderson Road headquarters. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not disclosed the nature of its investigation. WellCare has replaced its top executives and formed a special investigative committee.
“The special committee of the board and the company have cooperated in this matter and will continue to do so,” WellCare said in a written statement released Friday.
Reporter Jerome R. Stockfisch can be reached at (813) 259-8402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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