WellCare executives among Donald Trump pardons

President Donald Trump pardoned five Floridian health care executives who were convicted of Medicaid fraud on the final night of his presidency Tuesday. Todd Farha, William Kale, Thaddeus Bereday, Paul Behrens and Peter Clay of WellCare Health were among 140 pardons and commutations handed out Tuesday night. Salomon Melgen, a Florida based eye-doctor, saw his sentence commuted as well.

The five WellCare executives were convicted of Medicaid fraud in 2013. They were found guilty of overcharging Medicaid by over $35 million. In 2007, the FBI executed a search warrant of their national headquarters in 2007.

 

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“Widely cited as a case study in overcriminalization, these men have attracted a broad range of support,” the White House said in a statement on Tuesday. “The expenditures reported were based on actual monies spent, and the reporting methodology was reviewed and endorsed by those with expertise in the state regulatory scheme. Notably, there was no evidence that any of the individuals were motivated by greed.”

Florida law required health maintenance organizations to spend at least 80% of Medicaid premiums on patient care. They were required to return money if they were not spending at least 80% on patient care. WellCare executives were not returning money that they were required to.

Bereday pleaded guilty to charges of Medicaid fraud. The other four executives were found guilty after a 13-week trial.

Melgen operated eye clinics across the East Coast, including in Florida. The eye-doctor falsely diagnosed many elderly patients with macular degeneration. He was able to defraud Medicare of $75 million through the diagnoses and unneeded treatments.

He was convicted on 67 charges after a two-month trial in Palm Beach in 2017.

“Numerous patients and friends testify to his generosity in treating all patients, especially those unable to pay or unable to afford healthcare insurance,” the White House said of Melgen in their statement.