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Cook Says Changes Are Coming To Passport

The board of directors of Medicaid manager Passport Health Plan met Thursday for the first time since an auditor's report revealed inappropriate spending and conflicts of interest within the agency.Passport CEO and board chair Dr. Larry Cook says an interim-CEO will be hired to relieve him of his duties in that position. He will remain on the board, but may be replaced next year when he gives up his vice presidency at the University of Louisville, which he has been planning to do since before the audit. Passport is part of U of L Health Care.Passport receives public funds to manage Medicaid plans in Jefferson and 15 surrounding counties. Cook says the board will soon meet with the state health cabinet and determine whether any money should be repaid to the state."That's a possibility," he says. "We'll work with the cabinet and if they think that's an appropriate thing to do, I presume we'll do it."Cook says the board will more closely review expenses and determine whether its lobbying efforts are appropriate. Two executives who were found in conflict of interest due to consulting jobs will stay on at Passport, but not without changes."In referring to consultant activities, in referring to travel activities, life will obviously change for all of our current and future employed people," says Cook.The auditor's report also found that Passport had transferred some thirty million dollars to various partners, including U of L. Cook says while it's possible some of Passport's money was misspent, these transfers were legal."We feel we exercised all due process," he says. "We do not feel we have violated IRS rules or Kentucky law and I'm certain that issue will be explored by the parties."Dr. Cook's full statement:

http://archive.wfpl.org/20101118passport.mp3

Gabe Bullard is the director of news and editorial strategy.