A long-time hospital payment rates official at the Minnesota Dept. of
Human Services filed a whistleblower lawsuit (case file No.
62-CV-14-1624) against his employer today. The complaint alleges that
DHS upper management have conducted a "brutal" internal campaign of
retaliation against him, among other things, for refusing to exempt the
Fairview University Medical Center (FUMC) Amplatz children's unit from a
state-mandated reduction in Medical Assistance (MA) payments.
Representing Olson is the Minneapolis law firm of Halunen & Associates -
a firm known for its successful litigation on behalf of whistleblower
clients. The lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul,
Minn., seeks damages in excess of $50,000 to compensate Olson for career
losses and psychological distress. Olson is asking for a jury trial. A
copy of the complaint can be accessed here: http://1drv.ms/1hzTEOP.
"Paul Olson was just doing his job for the state of Minnesota by
refusing to approve an obviously illegal financial arrangement for
Fairview's Amplatz children's unit," says Clayton Halunen, an attorney
with Halunen & Associates. "His superiors, for whatever reason, did not
want to let Olson do his job. Instead, they found someone else they
could bully into doing what they wanted and then dmoted Olson to a
demeaning position. But Olson didn't just fade away into bureaucratic
limbo. He continued to fight for what he believed was the right thing to
do, and now he'll have his day in court to prove it."
Olson alleges that top officials at the DHS, including Scott Leitz,
assistant commissioner of the DHS Health Care Administration, demanded
that he exempt FUMC's Amplatz children's unit from the state
legislature's mandated 10 percent reduction in MA payments beginning in
late 2011. Olson refused, stating that the exemption only applied to
institutions like Gillette Children's Hospital and would be illegal if
granted to FUMC. In late 2012, DHS officials bypassed Olson and ordered
another employee to implement the exemption, including a plan to
retroactively reimburse the hospital for "under-payments" during the
time that Olson withheld his consent for the preferential exclusion.
In February 2013, Olson was relieved of his rates management position
and reassigned to the post of "special projects." Olson - still employed
at DHS albeit in a much-reduced position, and now excluded from any
meaningful work in his areas of expertise - continued to challenge what
he observed to be illegal conduct, including the exemption granted to
FUMC. DHS finally launched an internal audit that concluded that the
exemption given to FUMC was contrary to what the state legislature
mandated, and therefore illegal. FUMC had already received $500,000 in
Medical Assistance payments that it was not entitled to by the time of
the investigation's conclusion. State and federal taxpayers could
potentially have overpaid FUMC by more than $11 million over a four-year
period ending in 2015 if the exemption had gone unchallenged, according
to DHS findings.
Besides Leitz, other DHS officials named in the lawsuit as having a role
in the effort to silence Olson are James Golden, deputy assistant
commissioner to Leitz, and Mark Hudson, division director of DHS's
Purchasing & Services Division.
About Halunen & Associates
With offices in Minneapolis and Chicago, the law firm of Halunen &
Associates offers experienced legal representation to protect
whistleblowers that have experienced retaliation or are planning to blow
the whistle. They also offer experienced legal representation to
individuals who are blowing the whistle on government fraud under the
False Claims Act and other statutes. Most recently, Halunen & Associates
was retained by ex-Minnesota Vikings football player Chris Kluwe for
legal counsel for the Vikings' investigation into Kluwe's claim that a
coach used homophobic slurs during team meetings. For more information
on Halunen & Associates, visit the firm's website at http://whistleblower.halunenlaw.com/.
[ Back To NFVZone's Homepage ]