Centene to pay $27.6M to settle PBM investigation in Kansas

Centene Corporation has settled yet another pharmacy benefit management case, this time in Kansas, where it agreed to pay $27.6 million to the state.

After Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost investigated and filed suit against Centene over PBM practices, similar lawsuits cropped up in other states. In a statement, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the case alleged Centene failed to "satisfy its obligation to represent the state's best interests" in negotiating drug prices in Medicaid.

“We take seriously our role of protecting Kansas taxpayers and finding and stopping fraud and overpayments in the state Medicaid program,” Schmidt said. “Today’s settlement involving PBM practices is the first of its sort in Kansas, and other investigations continue.”

Kansas officials began investigating Centene's practices following the Ohio investigation's publication in 2019, Schmidt said. In the settlement, Centene guarantees it will improve transparency by providing access to the necessary data to track pharmaceutical transactions.

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A Centene spokesperson said in a statement to Fierce Healthcare that the settlement "allows us to continue our relentless focus on delivering high-quality outcomes to our members."

"We respect the deep and critically important relationships we have with our state partners," the spokesperson said. "This no-fault agreement reflects the significance we place on addressing their concerns and our ongoing commitment to making the delivery of healthcare local, simple and transparent."

Schmidt's office said the settlement covers the time between Jan. 1, 2016, and Nov. 2, 2021.

In June, Centene announced it would pay out $88 million to settle the Ohio allegations and $55 million in Mississippi for a similar case. In September, the government insurance giant settled two additional cases, one in Illinois for $56 million in two installments and one for $15.2 million in Arkansas.

A 2020 Supreme Court decision affirmed states' authority to regulate third-party administration of both private and public health plans, paving the way for lawsuits like these.