Trial begins for Iowa pharmacist accused of fraud

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A trial is starting for an Iowa pharmacist accused of fraudulently billing an insurance company for life-saving drugs sent to hemophilia patients.

Michael Stein, the owner of Pharmacy Matters in Iowa City, has pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of health care fraud. Jury selection began Monday in federal court in Des Moines.

Prosecutors contend Stein billed Wellmark for expensive drugs to treat hemophilia, when his pharmacy actually did little work in dispensing those drugs. They say his pharmacy acted as a "pass-through entity" for Florida companies, giving them access to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield network.

Stein's attorneys say the case is a contract dispute between a pharmacist and an insurer. They say reasonable minds disagree about whether Stein provided a service for which he could bill Wellmark.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.