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Thanks a Lot, Xerox

SACRAMENTO (CN) - Xerox fired a woman who tried to save California $5 million in overpayments to anesthesia providers, the woman claims in court.

Tamara Morgan sued Xerox Corp. in Superior Court.

Morgan says she started working at Xerox in May 2009 as its director of cost containment. She was expected to "develop cost containment proposals for California's Department of Health Care Services, as well as review, approve, and implement cost containment policies and procedures," according to the complaint. 5

Morgan claims she discovered in February 2012 that California was overpaying anesthesia providers due to a mix-up in claims for "minutes" rather than "units."

"Plaintiff's research indicated that the percentage of overpayments made for the last three years to anesthesia providers billing their anesthesia time in 'minutes' in a field box that wanted 'units' was over 5 million dollars. Plaintiff believed that the overpayments should and could be recovered on behalf of the state of California," the complaint states.

But when she brought up the problem in a meeting, Morgan says, Xerox told her it would cost too much time and money to fix.

"Plaintiff was told that the problem had been known since 2009, when Hewlett Packard had the contract, but it was never fixed. Plaintiff was also told that using claim reviewers to review every anesthesia claim was not possible without hiring more reviewers than the budget would allow. Further, plaintiff was told that reviewing all of the claims would slow down payments to providers and that slow payment was already a serious concern for defendant [Xerox] as it had to meet contractual requirements regarding the processing of payments," the complaint states.

Morgan claims the people at the meeting decided to send letters "instructing providers to audit the issue themselves and then trust that they would refund the state of California for overpayments," and address the issue again in a meeting two weeks later.

Morgan says she continued to research the topic and learned that Xerox was not monitoring the anesthesia overpayments, even though the Department of Health Care Services had sent "several emails" to Xerox asking it to do so.

She says she "copied her supervisor, Jeanne Tucker, on her research."

Tucker is not a party to the complaint.

On Feb. 17, 2012, Morgan says, Tucker emailed her "and told her [to] stop looking into the anesthesia overpayments for the stated reason that they were not a cost containment concept and that plaintiff did not seem to know what she was doing regarding her job duties. Ms. Tucker told plaintiff to meet her on the following Monday for a meeting. Then, on or about February 20, 2012, plaintiff was terminated from her employment."

Morgan says she has "since learned that no action has been taken to try to recover the over $5 million of overpayments on behalf of the state of California."

She also claims that Xerox deleted all of the research she compiled on the anesthesia issue after she was fired.

Morgan claims Xerox fired her to prevent her from pursuing the issue, enabling it to keep its costs down.

"Had plaintiff's concern continued to be pushed, then defendant would have been forced to fix the overbilling issue, which would have significantly increased defendant's costs by requiring it to seek repayment by the medical providers (who were already complaining about slow payments), hire a significant amount of employees to perform the manual checks, and/or ultimately be required to repay to the state of California the approximately $5 million in overpayments that defendant allowed to occur by not making the necessary adjustments required by its contract," the complaint states.

Morgan seeks compensatory and punitive damages for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

She is represented by Robert P. Henk with Henk Leonard, of Roseville.

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