Oregon AG hires Medicaid fraud prosecutor

Chris Rizo Feb. 12, 2010, 6:41am

John Kroger (D)

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline)-The Oregon attorney general has hired a seasoned county prosecutor to pursue cases of alleged Medicaid fraud on behalf of the state.

Attorney General John Kroger said Thursday that he has hired Morrow County District Attorney Elizabeth Ballard to prosecute cases of health care fraud.

"As a district attorney, Elizabeth Ballard brings unparalleled experience and judgment to our team," Kroger said in a statement.

A prosecutor since 2002, Ballard was appointed and elected district attorney in the eastern Oregon county in 2006. She will start working for the Oregon Department of Justice Medicaid Fraud Unit in March, the attorney general said.

Since taking office in January, Kroger has collected nearly $20 million from pharmaceutical companies that defrauded or allegedly defrauded Oregon consumers and the state Medicaid program.

Kroger has sued, among other civil defendants, Aventis Pharmaceuticals because it allegedly misreported its best prices for its steroid-based anti-inflammatory nasal sprays Azmacort, Nasacort and Nasacort AQ.

Kroger also recently won money for the Beaver State through a multistate settlement with Pfizer, Inc. over the pharmaceutical giant's marketing of the drug Geodon.

In federal fiscal year 2008, Oregon ranked 21st in recouping Medicaid fraud money per federal grant dollar spent, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data available.

Federal officials said the Oregon attorney general's office got $7.34 for every federal dollar it received to fight Medicaid fraud in 2008.

Missouri ranked No. 1, getting $18.81 for every federal dollar its AG's office received that year. In 2008, Democrat Hardy Myers was Oregon attorney general, while Jay Nixon, also a Democrat, was Missouri attorney general.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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