Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, April 21, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page B-9



 Mountain Views News Saturday, April 21, 2012 


The latest on Business News, Trends and Techniques

 LOS ANGELES – Walgreens, 
the largest drugstore 
chain in the nation, has paid the 
United States and participating 
governments $7.9 million 
to settle allegations that it paid 
kickbacks to illegally induce the 
transfer of prescriptions to its 

 The settlement was announced 
today when the federal 
and state governments learned 
that federal judges had unsealed 
allegations contained in two 
“whistleblower” lawsuits filed 
against Walgreens. The federal 
lawsuits were filed in Los Angeles 
and Detroit.

 The settlement resolves 
allegations that Walgreens illegally 
offered gift cards and 
other incentives as kickbacks 
to customers covered by government-
funded health insurance 
programs to induce the 
transfer of prescriptions from 
other stores to its pharmacies. 
These kickbacks resulted in the 
governments paying for unneeded 
prescriptions, small-
business pharmacies unfairly 
losing customers to Walgreens, 
and patients making decisions 
based upon monetary incentives 
rather than legitimate 
health care needs. The federal 
health care programs defrauded 
by the illegal kickbacks include 
Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE 
and FEHBP (Federal Employees 
Health Benefits Program).

 “This settlement vindicates 
and protects the interests 
of consumers throughout the 
nation by ensuring that they remain 
free from undue influence 
exerted by large retail chains 
when they make important individual 
decisions about which 
pharmacies to entrust their own 
individual health care,” said 
United States Attorney André 
Birotte Jr.

 Stuart F. Delery, the Acting 
Assistant Attorney General 
for the Civil Division of 
the Department of Justice, said, 
“This case represents the government’s 
strong commitment 
to pursuing improper practices 
in the retail pharmacy industry 
that have the effect of manipulating 
patient decisions.”

 The $7.9 million settlement 
includes a $646,896 payment 
to the participating states 
because both federal and state 
governments fund Medicaid 
programs. As part of the settlement, 
Walgreens did not admit 

 The governments became 
aware of these allegations 
when two “whistleblowers” 
– Cassie Bass and Jack Chin – 
filed lawsuits under the qui tam 
provisions of the federal and 
state False Claim Acts. Pursuant 
to the provisions of these 
laws, a portion of the settlement 
amount will be paid to 
the whistleblowers, who will 
split $1,277,172 for their role in 
uncovering the illegal kickback 
scheme and filing the lawsuits. 
Ms. Bass learned of the misconduct 
while working as a pharmacy 
technician at Walgreens 
in Detroit, and Mr. Chin discovered 
the scheme as an independent 
pharmacist in Florida.

 The federal share of the 
settlement is $7,298,124.

 “This settlement makes 
clear that corporations seeking 
increased profits over their patients’ 
needs will pay a substantial 
price,” said Daniel R. Levinson, 
Inspector General for the 
Department of Health and Human 
Services. “Violating federal 
health care laws, as Walgreens 
allegedly did by offering incentives 
for new business, cannot 
be tolerated.”

 These cases were investigated 
jointly by the United 
States Attorney’s Offices for 
the Central District of California 
and the Eastern District 
of Michigan, the Commercial 
Litigation Branch of the United 
States Justice Department’s Civil 
Division, the National Association 
of Medicaid Fraud Control 
Units, and the United States Department 
of Health and Human 
Services - Office of Inspector 


By La Quetta M. Shamblee, 


Outgrowing your home office? Ready to establish an offsite location with more room and 
the amenities to take your business to the next level? The expenses associated with securing 
a lease or moving into an office can be a major barrier to entrepreneurs. Sharing office space 
is an option to consider.

Within the past twenty years, larger corporations have recognized the benefits of shared 
facilities. Major banks, Starbucks and fast food chains have established operations include 
grocery stores. This arrangement represents significant savings in facility expenses for these 
businesses, and it generates additional revenue for the host sites, in this example, grocery 

Sharing an office or mixed-use space can be a winning proposition for all parties involved. 
First, the expenses can be split among two or more entrepreneurs, which will result in lower 
costs for each one. Second, it is usually possible to rent a larger space to accommodate 
separate offices and additional space that can be used for meetings or other activities.

Sometimes the term “shared office space” is used to refer to an office environment shared by 
other businesses or professionals that includes a basic set of business and support services. 
These types of spaces may come with basic resources, furnishings and equipment like desks, 
conference tables, fax machine, copier, WiFi, etc. Sometimes, a receptionist and other basic 
services are also available. This type of arrangement is another more cost effective option for 
a sole entrepreneur who is just starting out.

The price range for office space varies as widely as it does for residential property. It will 
depend upon the location, size, condition and amenities of the office space. Some business 
landlords will require a minimum six-month to one-year lease, while others may insist on 
a month-to-month agreement. The options will vary from landlord to landlord, with some 
taking a hands-on approach to interviewing potential tenants and finalizing the rental or 
lease agreement. Others use professional property management companies.

Prices for office space are quoted as a flat monthly rate or more commonly, as an amount 
per square foot. It is still possible to find some great deals on space in older buildings or 
industrial park starting in the most economical range of $2.00 - $5.00 per square foot. Those 
with deeper pockets who wish to have an address along or adjacent to major boulevards 
or popular destinations like regional malls or other landmarks should be prepared to pay 
anywhere from $8.00 to more than $30 per square foot.

It may be timely to take a page from the playbook of major corporations and think about 
spreading the expenses of a business location across a number of entrepreneurial tenants. 

L.A. County Workforce Investment Board Receives 
Grant to Fund No-Cost Re-Employment and Training 
for Nearly 1,000 Laid-Off Workers

Employers will also receive assistance to hire and 
find qualified andtrained employees.

Thanks to a multi-million dollar National Emergency 
Grant (NEG) from the U.S.Department of 
Labor, the Los Angeles County Workforce Investment 
Board was awarded funds as part of the California 
Multi-Sector Workforce Partnership. The 
aim of this program is to provide retraining and

career transition needs to individuals who experienced 
layoffs and also to help employers with 
job openings to locate well-qualified andtrained 

 We are recruiting laid-off workers for this special 
program thatprovides no-fee job training and 
placement assistance in high demand industries 
in the county that have current job openings. This 
programis designed to benefit employers in many 
ways, including reimbursement of a substantial 
portion of wages paid to new hires from this 

 To date, over 700 individuals have signed up to 
take advantage of this opportunity. Space is still 
available now that the deadline to enroll has been 
extended to June 30, 2012. Interested employers 
and job seekers should contact us immediately by 
email at <mailto:neg@css.> or visit our website at http://www.

 "The California Multi-Sector Workforce Partnership 
addresses 123 mass layoffs in California 
that have affected over 32,000 workers in 19

industries statewide," said Richard Verches, Executive 
Director of theLos Angeles County Workforce 
Investment Board. "In Los Angeles County,

we expect nearly 1,000 individuals to take advantage 
of job services paid for by this grant."

 This program will pay for laid-off workers to 
participate in On-the-Job Training, paid work 
experience, internships and customized training 
programs in order to increase their opportunities 
foremployment, and the costs of equipment or 
transportation, depending upon one's situation.

 "The support of government is critical to meet 
the needs of andsupport local businesses that 
employ local residents," said Mr.Verches. "Employers 
who participate in On-the-Job Training 
programs can receive recruiting support to locate 
well-qualified candidates andpossible reimbursement 
for the wages of new employees."

 About the Los Angeles County Workforce Investment Board:

The Los Angeles County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) 
is established by federal law as the oversight and policy body 
comprised of private business representatives, labor, higher 
education, government andnon-profit partners who are appointed 
by the Board of Supervisors. TheWIB funds 17 one-
stop WorkSource Centers to provide employment and

training services to residents and businesses in 58 of the 
County's 88 cities and all 151 unincorporated areas.