RI Looks At Ties Between Legislators and CVS

Discussion
Jan 23, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Rhode Island’s attorney general, Patrick Lynch, is looking into the relationships between legislators and business after two state senators were forced to resign following allegations
of impropriety in their dealings with CVS and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, reports the Providence Journal.


Sen. John Celona, D-North Providence, admitted receiving a $1,000 retainer fee from CVS as a consultant while at the same time being chairperson of a committee overseeing health
care in the state.


A proposed bill that may have hurt CVS’ business by allowing consumers greater choice in where to have prescriptions filled never made it out of Mr. Celona’s committee.


The attorney general was quick to point out that the investigation “isn’t just about Celona or CVS or Blue Cross. To characterize it that way at this point is not fair to them.
That doesn’t mean to absolve Celona or CVS or Blue Cross, either, but this isn’t just about them. It’s not just limited to one person or one company, Democrat or Republican, the
Senate or the House. It’s about consulting fees and relationships, not only for legislators but for anyone in private business who was improperly doing business.”


William Irons, the Senate president was also linked to a conflict of interest. Mr. Irons resigned his post in December after the Providence Journal reported he received
more than $70,000 in broker commissions for a CVS employee health-insurance benefits program with Blue Cross & Blue Shield.


Moderator’s Comment: How does CVS deal with a consumer public in Rhode Island that may now perceive it as working against their best interests?


There has been speculation that, because of Rhode Island’s weak corruption laws, the state’s Attorney General’s office may turn the case over to federal
prosecutors.


CVS has not said it is cooperating with state police investigating the case. No criminal charges have been filed against the company or its officers.

George
Anderson – Moderator

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