January 26, 2008 / 12:19 AM / 12 years ago

UPDATE 1-WellCare names Berg as chairman, Schiesser as CEO

(Adds company comments on investigation, details)

LOS ANGELES, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The board of WellCare Health Plans Inc (WCG.N), which is under investigation by federal and state authorities, named Charles Berg as executive chairman and Heath Schiesser as president and chief executive officer on Friday, effective immediately.

Todd Farha, the company’s former chairman, president and chief executive officer, said earlier in the day that he was resigning in order to pursue other entrepreneurial interests.

The resignation comes nearly three months after more than 200 federal and state agents raided the managed-care provider’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

WellCare said on Friday that it believes the investigations are focused mainly on the relationships of the company’s Florida health plans with its behavioral health subsidiary, Harmony Behavioral Health, including their calculation of a refund to the Florida Medicaid agency.

The company also said it believes investigators are looking into relationships among its various health plans and other wholly owned subsidiaries.

WellCare said it has not been advised of the full scope of the government’s investigation and does not know whether the probes may expand to other areas or lead to fines, penalties, operating restrictions or changes to the company’s historical financial statements.

In addition, the company said it has received requests for information from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and is responding to subpoenas issued by the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office involving transactions between the company and its affiliates involving their potential impact on the costs of that state’s Medicaid program.

Berg is a former CEO of Oxford Health Plans, while Schiesser previously served as WellCare’s senior vice president for marketing and sales. (Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Gary Hill)

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