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WellPoint Settles Medicare Case

July 30, 2002|From Bloomberg News

WellPoint Health Networks Inc., the biggest health insurer in California, agreed to pay $9.25 million to settle allegations that its Blue Cross of California unit cheated Medicare, the Justice Department said Monday.

Federal officials said Blue Cross falsified information so the government would believe the company performed more audits of Medicare reports than it did.

WellPoint, which was a Medicare contractor, audited reports that health-care providers submitted to the Medicare program between 1990 and Nov. 30, 2000.

The allegations were part of a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former Blue Cross auditor Vipul Vaid.

"We cooperated fully with the government and decided to settle this matter to avoid prolonged litigation regarding a business we no longer operate," said Thomas Geiser, Blue Cross of California's general counsel.

Shares of Thousand Oaks-based WellPoint fell 5 cents to $71.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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