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Kmart pharmacies allegedly defrauded health insurers out of millions 

–Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced a $1 million settlement with Kmart Corporation, one of the nation’s largest big-box retailers with 270 stores nationwide and a location in Atascadero, for alleged insurance fraud in California through prescription over-billing practices at
Kmart pharmacies.

The California settlement is part of a multi-million dollar national settlement in a civil suit in which the Department of Insurance participated alleging public and commercial insurance fraud through prescription over-billing practices.

“When it’s all said and done, illegal billing practices by pharmacies are expensive propositions for consumers, as insurers pass along the cost of fraud to consumers through higher premiums,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “The large dollar amounts associated with medical provider fraud has led me to focus the department’s law enforcement efforts on investigating both civil and criminal medical provider fraud cases.

The settlement stems from a qui tam action filed by whistleblower James Garbe, a former Kmart pharmacist, who alleged the retailer overbilled private health insurers and government health programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, for prescriptions filled in Kmart pharmacies from Sept. 1, 2004 through Dec. 31, 2016.

Instead of setting a price for certain medications, some insurance contracts specify insurers will reimburse at a rate based on what the pharmacy charges cash-paying customers. The whistleblower contended Kmart submitted false claims for payments Kmart knew exceeded the agreed-upon rates.

The insurance commissioner represents the people of California in civil cases alleging insurance fraud against private insurers under California Insurance Code False Claims Act, which resulted in the $1 million settlement for California.

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on , Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.