Pharmacy closes in Medicaid billing dispute

Posted Sept. 27, 2003, at 12 a.m.
Last modified Nov. 22, 2010, at 12:58 p.m.

OAKLAND, Maine — A pharmacist accused of Medicaid overbilling and poor record-keeping closed the doors to his business Friday after failing to resolve a lengthy dispute with the state.

Robert Nutting, a three-term state representative from Oakland and the owner of True’s Pharmacy, shut the business for good after 33 years on Main Street.

The Department of Human Services contends that Nutting owes the state about $1.3 million for overbilling on state and federal Medicaid payments for five years.

Nutting acknowledges he overbilled, but said it wasn’t intentional and that the state did not do its math correctly in calculating how much he owed.

Nutting has offered to pay $866,000 to settle the dispute, including $255,000 he has already paid.

He has said for weeks that if the dispute couldn’t be resolved, he would be forced to shut his business, which has been a popular gathering place in Oakland.

On Friday, dozens of people came by for one last visit, to eat at the pharmacy’s lunch counter or simply to say goodbye. By early evening, a taped message was left for telephone callers saying the pharmacy had closed and that prescriptions had been transferred to a Rite Aid.

“I feel more awful for the people than for myself,” Nutting said.

But the Department of Human Services said it can’t lower the amount it says Nutting owes.

The department originally estimated that he owed the state $3.6 million, but later revised the figure downward.

“In the end the taxpayers are the ones paying for this program, and they demand and expect it to be run in a fiscally responsible way,” said DHS spokesman Newell Auger.

Nutting said he can appeal the entire DHS handling of the case to the Kennebec County Superior Court or he can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and liquidate his assets.

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