FBI at Texas Health Commission Asking About 21CT Deal

By Terri Langford and Aman Batheja, Texas Tribune – FBI agents have interviewed employees at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission about its problematic contract with Austin firm 21CT, Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek told The Texas Tribune, marking the first time an official with direct knowledge of the federal probe has confirmed it. “I can tell you what I know. I’ve heard they were here talking to people. They have not talked to me,” Janek said late Thursday. How little-known 21CT landed a $20 million Medicaid fraud tracking software deal with HHSC, a whale of a state agency that spends billions each year on contracts, has become the center of three very public investigations launched since December. The probes began after news reports detailed how the commission failed to seek competitive bids before awarding the contract to 21CT, and how the commission’s then-deputy inspector general, Jack Stick, was once a business partner of the company’s lobbyist, James Frinzi. HHSC had selected 21CT...

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Following Abuses, Medicare Tightens Reins on Its Drug Program

Will ban physicians if they prescribe medications in abusive ways By Charles Ornstein, ProPublica –  The federal government has granted itself potent new authority to expel physicians from Medicare if they are found to prescribe drugs in abusive ways, following through on a proposal issued earlier this year. Under the rule finalized Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also will compel health providers to enroll in Medicare to order medications for patients covered by its drug program, known as Part D. This requirement closes a loophole that had allowed some practitioners to operate with little or no oversight from Medicare. CMS proposed the new rule following stories last year by ProPublica that documented how Medicare’s failure to oversee Part D effectively had enabled doctors to prescribe inappropriate or risky medications, had led to the waste of billions of dollars on needlessly expensive drugs, and had exposed the program to rampant fraud. Using five years...

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