December 21, 2011 4:33:00 PM
JACKSON -- The federal government says Mississippi must turn over $17 million of a $20 million settlement with pharmaceutical companies accused of inflating wholesale prices.
Attorney General Jim Hood told The Clarion-Ledger that the state doesn't owe anything, because the companies paid the federal government under separate settlements.
"I will sue to stop (them) from double-dipping," Hood said Tuesday. "This office will fight any attempt to give state money to the federal government when it is not owed."
The federal health department sent a letter Tuesday, claiming the money paid by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Sanofi-Aventis SA, Warrick Pharmaceuticals and Mylan Inc.
Regional official Jackie Glaze says states must pay the federal share of any overpayments recovered through lawsuits if they cannot show that the federal government already has benefited through its own settlements.
"Mississippi has been unable to provide the requested documentation and reports it has exhausted all avenues in its efforts to locate such material," Glaze wrote.
Hood said his office was not notified about the letter or that there was a documentation question.
"Instead of helping us fight the federal government to keep money the state recovered, Gov. (Haley) Barbour appears to be trying to give it away to the federal government," Hood said.
Barbour is a Republican, and Hood is a Democrat. The two have been political foes for years.
Hood said he provided in May to the governor's office documents that show federal settlements with each of the companies in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Barbour on Tuesday said he thinks the state will have to return the money. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee has included the money in its tally of general funds available for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Barbour had warned budget writers in October that he did not think the state would be able to keep the full settlement.
"There's a little over $17 million less in the budget than you would think," he said Tuesday.
State Medicaid Director Bob Robinson, who has traded barbs with Hood in the past, appears to agree with Barbour's interpretation.
"CMS has consistently held that a state must repay the federal share of any overpayment recovered by the state and that a state may not unilaterally decide to recover the state share," he wrote in a letter to budget leaders in March.
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