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Four in health care put on leave

The chief executive officer and three other employees of a company that has a $2.6 million contract with the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services have been placed on leave, a company official confirmed Friday.

The Indiana-based company, Health Care Excel, is under contract to help Kentucky prevent overpayments to providers of Medicaid services.

Carol Ireson of Lexington, chairwoman of the board at Health Care Excel, confirmed Friday that CEO Sharon Smith and three other employees were on administrative leave. Smith could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ireson declined to elaborate on the problems, but she said, "It does not have anything to do with Kentucky in any way at all."

Ireson said that another company official was acting as CEO.

"We are aware that the CEO and other employees were put on leave, and are monitoring the situation closely," said Beth Fisher, a spokeswoman for Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Fisher said the HCE contract is for one year and runs from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

The company conducts reviews and audits, she said.

Health Care Excel's Web site said that it provides similar services to Arizona, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio.