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CMS Shuts Down 2 WellCare Plans

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has ordered WellCare Health Plans Inc. to suspend sales of 2 Medicare plans, the company says.

In response to the order, WellCare, Tampa, Fla., says it will suspend sales of its Medicare Advantage plan and prescription drug plan by March 7.

Existing members of the Medicare plans will continue to have access to covered health care services, the company says.

The action does not affect WellCare’s Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program plans.

CMS ordered the suspension after reviewing the results of an audit, WellCare says.

WellCare says it is working with CMS “to address issues raised by the agency in a letter that imposed sanctions” on the 2 plans.

“We take CMS’ concerns very seriously,” says WellCare President Heath Schiesser. “We are committed to complying fully with CMS requirements and serving the needs of our members.”

The company says it is working with independent parties to ensure that it is complying with CMS requirements.

In October 2007, WellCare reported that federal and state agencies had searched the company’s headquarters. At that time, the company’s board said the company did not know the full scope of the government’s investigation.

The company also said it had received a request for information from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and that the Connecticut attorney general’s office had asked for information about transactions between WellCare and affiliates that may have affected the cost of Connecticut’s Medicaid program.