Richard Cordray (D)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-Supermarket giant Meijer Inc. will pay $3 million to settle claims over having employed four pharmacists who were barred from federal health programs, officials said.

The pharmacists worked at Meijer stores in Michigan and Ohio from 1997 to 2006. They had been barred from Medicare, Medicaid or the U.S. military's TRICARE program.

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer brought the issue to the government's attention, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan said.

"Vigorous enforcement of the exclusion law is vital to the integrity of the health care system, and the best way for companies to address their violations is through full disclosure to the government as soon as they discover the problem," U.S. Attorney Don Davis said in a statement.

Meijer has 190 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.

Pharmacists and other health care professionals can be barred from federal programs for a variety of reasons, including past convictions, student loan problems, patient abuse or state licensing actions, officials said.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray on Friday announced that his office would receive $173,000 as part of the settlement. It was unclear what Michigan will receive under the settlement.

The settlement was negotiated by the Ohio Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the TRICARE Management Activity and the Michigan attorney general's office.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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