AUGUSTA (AP) – The head of Maine’s Department of Human Services has issued a formal decision in part of the department’s billing dispute with True’s Pharmacy of Oakland, asserting that the business owned by state Rep. Robert Nutting owes the DHS at least $637,477.34.

At issue is the sale of incontinency supplies to Medicaid beneficiaries over a five-year period.

Acting DHS Commissioner Peter Walsh, in a statement dated Thursday, said in accepting much of the recommendations of a hearing officer he declined to “accept the department’s choice of ‘the 100 percent recoupment for the period (of) Jan. 1, 1997, through Dec. 31, 2001, in the amount of $2,299,710.”‘

Settling on a lesser sum, Walsh ordered DHS officials and representatives of the pharmacy “to negotiate a payment plan, subject to my final approval.”

Nutting said he was unsure what a settlement envisioned in Walsh’s decision would amount to and unsure what would happen next.

Final decisions on billing disputes involving two other products – gloves and bed liners – have yet to be reached.

“The devil is in the details of the resolution,” Nutting said in a telephone interview. “I still have seen nothing that would lead me to change the scheduled closing of True’s next Friday.”

Nutting conceded that money was owed to the department.

“From the beginning, we said we made some mistakes,” he said. “We were overpaid.”

Nutting, who said further discussions with DSH officials could come next week, announced in August that he intended to close True’s Pharmacy for good on Sept. 26 if no settlement was reached with the state.

According to Nutting attorney Jay McCloskey, Nutting has offered to pay the state $866,000 to settle all issues in dispute.

McCloskey said the remaining question was, “Can it be done in a week?”

Earlier this month, five fellow Republican legislators told Gov. John Baldacci that the state should consider a settlement in its case against Nutting.

Nutting “has agreed to make amends. It is time for the Department of Human Services to meet him halfway,” said the letter signed by Reps. Julie O’Brien of Augusta, Earle McCormick of West Gardiner, Ken Fletcher of Winslow, Maitland Richardson of Skowhegan and William Browne of Vassalboro.

Walsh’s decision noted that Nutting had 30 days to file a petition in Superior Court for judicial review.

AP-ES-09-19-03 1605EDT

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