[JURIST] A federal jury Monday returned a $48 million verdict against Amerigroup [corporate website] and its Illinois affiliate for discriminating against pregnant women by intentionally not reaching out to them while marketing its insurance services in Illinois. The lawsuit was based on allegations made by whistleblower Cleveland Tyson, who was fired from the company in 2002 and will also receive part of the jury award for coming forward. Federal and state prosecutors said the jury award will be tripled according to requirements under the federal False Claims Act [text] and the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act [text]. The jury also found that the company made over 18,000 false claims against Medicaid during a 3-year period. US District Judge Harry Leinenweber [official profile] will decide how much the company should pay for those charges, a number that could reach $11,000 for every instance of fraud.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [official website] called Amerigroup's actions "unconscionable" and said the verdict will send a strong message to insurance providers in the state. Amerigroup has denied all wrongdoing, saying they had publicly announced that the company was working to limit the number of third-trimester women that it covered in order to provide "continuity of care." The company claims the state encouraged such a practice and said it plans to appeal the jury's verdict. AP has more.