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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Update on Dr. Andrew Agwunobi

It appears that the rest of the media has finally caught up to what I broke, along with Pharma Fraud, months ago. Dr. Andrew Agwunobi appears to be knee deep in the scandal at Well Care. I first heard of Dr. Andrew Agwunobi (here is the original) as the one time CEO of Grady Hospital during the years 2003-2004. In fact, Dr. Andrew Agwunobi has travelled quite the road.

He first popped up on the radar as the CEO of South Fulton, a relatively small Atlanta Hospital for the poor. When he walked into South Fulton, they were receiving marginal but passing grades from JCAHO. He walked out three months prior to a JCAHO report that failed the hospital and put them on probation. He then moved on to become the CEO of Grady Hospital, one of the largets hospitals in the country (and certainly the largest to serve the poor) Just over a year after he began his tenure at Grady, HHS issued a report that concluded this,

there is a serious and immediate danger to the health and safety of the patients.

So after running two separate hospitals into the ground, Dr. Agwunobi moved onto the next logical step in any such career path: he was given the job of COO of a network of hospitals at St. Joseph's in California. Here the story gets murky. He moved his family cross country and took what had to be a well paying job. For reasons that are still unclear he only stayed there for about a year before he moved his family back across country to Florida. This time he became a member of the board of WellCare. He only stayed at this job for about six months. He did cash out for a million bucks before he left though. Here is how Pharm Fraud described it...

Over the course of the past year, WellCare has lost both its chief medical officer and its top executive in Florida - the company's largest market - without offering any clear explanation for their exits. Yet, with the company under intense government scrutiny, a third departure has started looking even more telling to some.

Upon leaving WellCare, Agwunobi cashed out options and stocks for a $1 Million profit.

WellCare seemed to appreciate Agwunobi more than the board member he replaced. That director, Glen Johnson, had to forfeit his own unvested equity awards upon vacating his board seat.

Upon leaving WellCare, he took a job with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. His first order of business was to investigate his former employer, WellCare. His agency was one of ten that lead a raid on WellCare about eight months after he left the company. Things worked out for Agwunobi's stock options because in the immediate aftermath of the raid the stock plummetted.

The whole thing seemed fishy to me. Not only was he changing jobs constantly, not something you expect from a high level manager, but he seemed to always be leaving a mess behind him. He moved cross country twice in about a year and half and wound up nearly right where he started from. To top it off, he leaves WellCare with a parachute and then investigates the company and watches their stock plummet.

The story remained stagnant despite overwhelming proof of serious malfeasance. That was until just recently. Here is the latest.

The governor says the departure of Dr. Andrew Agwunobi from the Agency for Health Care Administration has nothing to do with a federal investigation.

Agwunobi's resignation comes as the feds look into WellCare Health Plans. Agwunobi served for six months on the WellCare board and when he went to work for Crist, the Wall Street Journal reported that he cashed in $1 million worth of stock options and netted between $400,000 and $500,000. The CEO of WellCare, Todd Farha, announced his resignation in late January.

I won't pretend to get into anyone's head, however Agwunobi's family situation is the same as it always was. What isn't the same is that the folks in Florida are finally paying attention to things I had been pointing out months ago.

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