Corrente: Martineau latest to cop a plea
WPRO reports that U.S. Attorney Robert Corrente has announced a plea agreement with former House Majority Leader Gerard Martineau (D, Woonsocket), who was charged with mail fraud. Martineau apparently opposed pharmacy choice legislation until pharmacies would do business with his company. According to a ProJo piece in 2004:
Two of his customers were CVS and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, companies that regularly lobbied the General Assembly on health-care legislation.
A Providence Journal investigation has found that Martineau, while he was in a position to influence legislation affecting CVS and Blue Cross, was profiting from his private business with those companies.
Martineau was selling bags to CVS, including the familiar white plastic bags with the red CVS logo, when he voted against pharmacy-choice legislation in 1995.
Later, as majority leader, Martineau was instrumental in the passage of laws regulating health care and Blue Cross, the state’s largest health insurer.
“I am more committed to [health care] than any other because of the effect it has on so many folks,” Martineau said in 2000, as cohost of a state health-care summit.
In June of that year, the same month that the General Assembly passed Martineau’s sweeping Health Reform RI 2000 Act, Blue Cross began buying paper bags from him. Over the next few years, Blue Cross purchased hundreds of thousands of bags, and distributed them to some of the pharmacies in its restricted network.
Blue Cross paid CVS to run the network of some 120 drugstores, about a third of which were CVS pharmacies. The network also included Brooks drugstores and independent pharmacies.
The legislature had repeatedly rejected legislation that would have allowed Blue Cross customers to get their prescriptions filled at any drugstore in Rhode Island, as opposed to just those in the network.
Dan Yorke speculates that this is a move to flip an insider for bigger fish. We shall see.