Medi-Cal officials’ travel linked to drug makers

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Records and interviews show that “Three California officials who oversee billions of dollars in Medi-Cal prescription drug spending have failed to disclose free flights, hotel rooms and meals paid for by nonprofit groups funded by drug makers,” according to Christina Jewett of California Watch.

One of the officials is directly involved in negotiating rebates with drug makers.

The nonprofits that paid for the trips are used to fund conferences and meetings and raise money by charging fees to drug company representatives who do business with Medicaid programs.

A Medi-Cal spokesman confirmed the trips and said they should have been reported as gifts. The agency has a policy against accepting gifts woth more than $320 from anyone that “has financial dealings with the department,” yet the spokesman said the agency had found no conflicts of interest in the trips.

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