Walgreens settles claims with MassHealth

BOSTON — Walgreens, which operates several pharmacies in Berkshire County in conjunction with another national chain, has agreed to pay almost $2 million in two separate settlement agreements to resolve allegations that it overcharged MassHealth for prescriptions, the state Attorney General's office said Wednesday.

In the first settlement, Walgreens will pay $774,486 to resolve allegations that it submitted claims to MassHealth in which it reported prices for certain prescription drugs at levels that were higher than what Walgreens actually charged, resulting in fraudulent overpayments.

Under the second settlement, Walgreens will pay $1,437,366 to resolve allegations that from January 2006 through December 2017, rather than dispensing the quantity of insulin called for by a patient's prescription, Walgreens exceeded the prescription amount and falsified information on claims submitted for reimbursement to MassHealth, including the quantity of insulin and/or days' supply dispensed.

          "Walgreens repeatedly failed to provide MassHealth with accurate information regarding its dispensing and billing practices, resulting in overpayment to the company at taxpayers' expense," said Attorney General Maura Healey, in a statement. "We will continue to investigate cases of fraud and take action to protect the integrity of MassHealth."

In the Berkshires, six of the county's nine Rite Aid pharmacies switched to the Walgreens brand in January 2018 after Walgreens received regulatory approval to purchase over 1,900 Rite Aid pharmacies across the country in late 2017. Three of those six stores are in Pittsfield, with the other three in Great Barrington, North Adams and Williamstown. They now operate as Walgreens-owned Rite Aid stores.

The country's largest U.S. pharmacy chain, Walgreens currently has 260 locations in Massachusetts.

The two settlements both arise from qui tam, or whistleblower, actions originally filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under the federal False Claims Act.

In 2003, Walgreens shot scenes for a series of television commercials in the Berkshires by using various county locations as the backdrops.


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