Schenectady County

County, drug maker settle lawsuit

The Schenectady County Legislature on Wednesday night accepted a lump sum settlement from a prescrip
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The Schenectady County Legislature on Wednesday night accepted a lump sum settlement from a prescription drug company it sued for Medicaid fraud in 2005.

Under the agreement, Bristol-Myers-Squibb will pay the county $57,014 to settle the suit, said Legislature Chairwoman Susan E. Savage, D-Niskayuna.

Bristol-Myers-Squibb is one of 77 pharmaceutical companies the county sued two years ago, alleging it overcharged the county by at least $15 million through fraudulently inflated Medicaid prescription drugs.

County Manager Kathleen Rooney said she hoped the settlement “will bring a cavalcade of settlements to the county.” County Attorney Chris Gardner said the county could see a windfall if it settles for at least $50,000 with the other 76 companies.

The county paid Bristol-Myers $949,000 under the Medicaid program between 1995 and 2005; Savage said the repayment represents 6 percent return to county taxpayers.

A representative of the law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which filed the lawsuit, said in an earlier interview that pharmaceutical companies boosted profits by inflating the cost of the drugs they sold to the federal government for the Medicaid program. Medicaid provides medical care to indigent and low-income families and individuals. Counties are responsible for paying 25 percent of Medicaid costs for their residents. The state pays 25 percent and the federal government the rest.

Schenectady County’s Medicaid costs in 2008 are budgeted at $31 million. The county uses property and sales taxes to pay the costs. County officials said 20 percent of the $31 million is for prescription drug costs alone.

METROPLEX MEMBERS

In other business, the Legislature approved five appointments to the 11-member Metroplex Development Authority board.

Named to five-year terms were Sharon Jordan, the selection of Mayor Brian U. Stratton; William Chapman, the selection of Niskayuna Supervisor Joe Landry; Edward Capovani, the selection of Glenville Supervisor Frank Quinn; Patrick Saccocio, the selection of Rotterdam Supervisor Steve Tommasone; and Robert Wall, the joint selection of the supervisors of Princetown and Duanesburg.

The appointments were unanimous, except for Saccocio’s. Savage voted against his appointment, saying “there could be an appearance his membership could benefit himself personally or his business.”

Saccocio is a member of a law firm, and Savage implied that he could at some point represent a client seeking Metroplex assistance. A company of which he is a partner also has a loan with Metroplex for a project on Broadway. Saccocio was not present at the meeting.

Before the vote, she had Geoff Hall, clerk of the county Legislature, call Democrats to remind them she would be voting against Saccocio’s appointment. Hall said Savage “did not want to blindside” the caucus with her vote.

Legislators also approved the appointment of Majority Leader Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady, to the board of trustees of Schenectady County Community College. He replaces Vincent DiCerbo, D-Schenectady, who resigned to serve as chairman of the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee. Hughes will serve on the 10-member board until 2010.

Republicans tried to substitute the name of Albert DeAprix Jr., a former county legislator and Republican, for that of Hughes. Democrats, who control the Legislature, voted against the change.

Minority Leader Robert Farley, R-Niskayuna, said he offered DeAprix’s name because Hughes supports the Democrats’ proposal to move some or all of the college’s music program downtown. Hughes denied he has taken a public stance on the controversial proposal. He vowed to keep an open mind.

DeAprix served as the Legislature’s representative on the SCCC board for years.

Categories: Schenectady County

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