IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Medicaid will pay back $70,000 to the federal government after an audit found claims were paid for drugs and services prescribed by doctors who should have been disqualified because of criminal convictions and other professional infractions, a spokesman said Friday.

The improper payments totaling $73,000 from 2006 through 2008 were uncovered in a February report by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Additional review by Iowa's Medicaid program revealed tens of thousands of dollars in additional payments that should not have been allowed between 2009 and this February.

The money paid for orders and prescriptions by health care providers who were listed in a federal database of individuals excluded from receiving Medicaid payments for services because of rule infractions. Medicaid is the government health care program for the poor and disabled.

Iowa Department of Human Services spokesman Roger Munns said the $70,000 federal share of the improper payments will be paid back after the agency receives a formal demand letter from the federal government. He said the agency has taken steps to fix the problem.

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