November 12, 2010

Nutting overbilled state in pharmacy dispute

Staff report

OAKLAND — House Speaker-elect Rep. Robert Nutting was involved in a 2003 case in which he was accused of overbilling the state for medical supplies sold to Medicaid clients.

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Surrounded by a handful of friends, Bob Nutting, owner of True's Pharmacy, locks the front doors in closing the business in Oakland in 2003.

File photo by Jeff Pouland

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The head of the then-Department of Human Services issued a formal decision in the department’s billing dispute with True’s Pharmacy that asserted the business — then owned by Nutting — owed the state at least $637,477 and perhaps as much as $2.3 million.

At issue: the sale of incontinency and other supplies to Medicaid beneficiaries over a five-year period from 1997 to 2001.

Acting DHS Commissioner Peter Walsh settled on the lesser sum and ordered DHS officials and representatives of the pharmacy “to negotiate a payment plan, subject to my final approval.”

It was unclear Friday whether the settlement was finalized.

Nutting — who shutttered the pharmacy in September 2003 — conceded that money was owed to the department.

“From the beginning, we said we made some mistakes,” he said in a 2003 Associated Press report. “We were overpaid.”

His attorney, Jay McCloskey, said at the time that Nutting had offered to pay the state $866,000 to settle all issues in dispute.

And a letter to the governor from a bipartisan group of legislators at the time said Nuttng, R-Oakland, “has agreed to make amends.”

“It is time for the Department of Human Services to meet him halfway,” said the letter signed by Reps. Julie O’Brien of Augusta, Earle McCormick of West Gardiner, Ken Fletcher of Winslow, Maitland Richardson of Skowhegan and William Browne of Vassalboro.

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