Gov. Sean Parnell announced Monday that the state has filed a claim against Xerox for its mishandling of Medicaid billing in the past year. The governor’s move is the right one, though it could have been made sooner. Over the course of the year that Xerox has been in charge of processing the billing for Medicaid claims across the state, patients and doctors have experienced months-long delays that have burdened medical providers and even caused some to close up shop.
Alaska isn’t alone in experiencing issues with Xerox as a provider for Medicaid billing services. A dozen states and the District of Columbia have contracted with the corporation to process payments for the need-based government health care plan, though some have had problems or reversed that decision. Montana claimed Xerox was in breach of their contract earlier this year before reaching resolution with the company, while Texas has not only canceled their contract but is suing.
In fairness, Medicaid is a vast and complex system, and the billing process wasn’t without its hiccups even before Xerox took over. But according to the accounts of the state and health care providers, those problems have worsened considerably since the company’s contract started. “Despite repeated promises by Xerox to fix the problem, we still have hundreds of dedicated providers not getting timely or accurate payments,” Gov. Parnell said in a release detailing the state’s decision to file a claim against the company. “Xerox has had more than enough time, and the issues have yet to be resolved.”
“More than enough time” is a good way to describe the situation. Doctors and patients alike have been frustrated with both Xerox’s tardiness in processing payments and the state’s slow march toward action against the company. After months of complaints, the state announced it was seeking mediation with Xerox in July. The state announced it would make a claim with the Office of Administrative Hearings when that process didn’t prove fruitful.
For its part, Xerox has characterized the problems as having decreased significantly as the company works kinks out of its system, and they point to the fact that the company and the state made a joint agreement to roll out the system when they did.
But the state is right — the problems with billing have been too widespread and too long-lasting to consider Xerox to be fulfilling its end of the bargain. Alaska’s patients and doctors deserve better, as soon as possible.
— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,