Obama Admin Now Intimidating Healthcare CEOs
Forest Labs entered into a federal plea agreement in September over misconduct in its marketing of antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro. The allegations were among a rash of government suits claiming that marketing to doctors common among drug companies amounted to fraud against Medicare and Medicaid. The charges were odd given their implication that major companies would be dumb enough to try to hoodwink their biggest customer. The charges also had a political flavor as an attempt to blame drug companies, rather than the fee-for-service design of the federal programs, for runaway costs. But some companies including Forest chose to settle rather than engage in extensive litigation.
Only after a federal court ratified the deal in March did HHS drop its intent-to-ban bomb. Mrs. Sebelius unearthed a dusty provision in the Social Security Act that allows officials to bar executives of health companies from doing business with the government when the firms are guilty of criminal misconduct.
The feds have rarely invoked this awesome power, given the potential for coercive abuse. But Mrs. Sebelius seems bent on making it more common policy and says she can employ it even against executives who had no knowledge of an employee's misconduct. A year ago Mrs. Sebelius used it to dismiss the CEO of a small drugmaker in St. Louis.
Don't support Obamacare? Watch out - the government will shut you down and run you out of business.