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Mississippi to Centene: I want my millions back too!

On March 24, Modern Healthcare revealed another round of allegations against Centene for overcharging Medicaid.

When the Mississippi Department of Medicaid contracted with Centene Corp. subsidiary Magnolia Health to manage care for the nearly half a million lower-income adults and children in its Medicaid system (MississippiCAN), state leaders probably didn’t foresee such a fiasco.

The state contends that Centene used a “web of subcontractors” to obscure drug costs and overcharged the state’s Medicaid program by millions of dollars in medication costs. If there’s truth to the allegations, it might help explain why Centene’s Medicaid business in 2020 took $74.7 billion in revenue—a 44% jump from 2019’s $51.8 billion. After all, it’s easy to rack up profits if you’re billing people twice.

Or in this case, allegedly billing two states twice. Just last month, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued Centene for basically the same thing. Yost alleged that the insurer intentionally overcharged his state’s Medicaid program for pharmacy benefits in a “conspiracy” to deceptively jack up prices to get higher Medicaid payments.

The Modern Health article cites a Facebook post from Mississippi state representative Becky Currie, who serves on the House Medicaid Committee. She called for an audit of the Medicaid program, noting that she has “shouted at the top of my lungs for 8 years” that the insurers running MississippiCAN are “ripping us off.” To us, her point is quite reasonable: “If they have stolen millions from Mississippi, I want to know, and I want to know now.”

Anyone taking bets on the rule of threes?

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