In this May 4, 2020, file photo, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White speaks during a news conference in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File - Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Auditor White says his office is fighting for the taxpayers every month, serving as a watchdog to protect public funds.
On Thursday, the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor (OSA) announced last month’s return of $63,660.90 to public coffers. The monies are a result of instances such as bond repayments or a judge’s decision on restitutions.
State Auditor Shad White told the Magnolia Tribune that his office continues to work month in and month out to recoup such funds for taxpayers.
“Last year we recovered nearly $2 million,” Auditor White said. “From big cases to small cases, we fight for the taxpayers every month.”
In December 2022, OSA announced that over the last four years, the office has recovered millions of dollars.
“In 2021 an investigation into PBMS resulted in a $55 million settlement,” OSA said. “$10 million has been recovered from hundreds of other investigations.”
PBMS, pharmacy benefit managers, are companies that manage prescription drug benefits on behalf of drug programs like health insurance, Medicare, and the state Medicaid program.
An OSA report titled, “Pharmacies vs. Big Corporations: Survey Illustrates the Challenge of PBMs for Independent Pharmacies” said PBMs were originally created to manage these reimbursements from a health plan to your local pharmacy. However today, the Auditor’s office says PBMs are large corporations that have incredible power in the pharmaceutical industry.
In 2019, State Auditor Shad White launched an investigation into the PBM serving the state’s Medicaid program.
“In June 2021, the State of Mississippi reached a $55.5 million settlement with the Centene Corporation and their PBM thanks to this investigation,” OSA said in the report. “This represented the largest civil settlement resulting from a State Auditor’s investigation in the history of the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor. However, state Medicaid recipients are not the only Mississippians impacted by PBMs. Independent pharmacies across the state are pushing back at what they call unfair practices when it comes to PBM reimbursement.”
As for other efforts to recoup mishandled funds, in the FY 2022 Audit Exceptions Report, Auditor White said the Investigations Law Enforcement Division issued eighty-seven formal demands for a total of $101,026,109.27 and recovered misspent or embezzled funds totaling $1,926,802.10. The total amount of funds recovered by the Office of the State Auditor for Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2022, was $1,960,926.57.
“The County Audit Section recovered disallowed expenditures totaling $34,124.47,” White further explained. “These exceptions involved miscellaneous, disallowed expenditures by chancery clerks and circuit clerks and are recorded as ‘paid in full and settled to the appropriate fund directly.'”
White said the recovery funds also involved inappropriate salary increases approved by some boards of supervisors as well as election commissioners being paid for more days than allowed. The total amount of disallowed expenditures, he says, was $7,764.50, for which no payments have been received.
Click here to view the FY 2022 Audit Exceptions Report
“The Office of the State Auditor continues to serve as a watchdog organization to ensure that tax dollars are protected, and we pledge to perform our jobs with integrity, honesty and a commitment to excellence,” White continued. “We continue to protect the public’s trust through evaluations of accounting practices and aggressive investigations of alleged wrongdoing. We believe the taxpayers of Mississippi deserve no less.”