Humana fires lobbying firm tied to alleged Medicare Advantage rate leak

Humana has fired its lobbying firm that has been allegedly tied to a leak about Medicare Advantage payment rates. Shares soared for Humana, UnitedHealth and Aetna after the news was released.

After learning that a lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig emailed investment research firm Height Securities and allegedly leaked news that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services was raising Medicare Advantage payment rates by 3 percent before the agency officially made the announcement, Humana broke ties with Greenberg, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The email in question came from Mark Hayes, who was both a lobbyist for Humana and a consultant to Height Securities. He said his prediction about the Medicare Advantage rates was based on information he "heard from very credible sources."

After Height released the alert, Humana's stock jumped 5.9 percent late on April 1, followed by another 5.5 percent the next day. UnitedHealth and Aetna saw similar rising stocks.

Humana, which is the second largest provider of Medicare plans, also announced Thursday that it is conducting an internal probe into the matter, according to Reuters. The insurer already has interviewed employees in its Washington, D.C., offices to uncover any potential wrongdoing.

Spokesman Tom Noland clarified, however, that Humana had no advance knowledge of the CMS rate decision, reported Bloomberg.

CMS and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also are investigating the alleged leak.

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the Reuters article
- see the Bloomberg article

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