MEDI-CAL FRAUD: Investigator Wins Discrimination Suit Against State
J. Alan Cates, head of California's Medi-Cal Fraud Prevention Bureau, has been awarded $416,000 in a discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, the state controller's office, the Los Angeles Times reports. Cates' suit charged that he had been denied the chance to apply for a job as a senior investigator in the controller's office because his polio-related disability requires him to wear leg braces and sometimes use crutches. When Cates applied for the job, chief investigator John Henry told Cates "he was not physically capable of doing the job," despite passing a physical training course. The suit also alleged that Cates was punished for filing a complaint about the situation by receiving a reprimand for helping the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office investigate Medi-Cal fraud. Cates had taken state audit reports and other documents concerning "potentially widespread abuses of Medi-Cal to federal authorities" because he believed the state attorney general's office "had not taken sufficient action." The information now has led to 104 charges and 61 convictions for up to $1 billion in fraud. Cates said that "his decision to take his findings on Medi-Cal to the feds would have never resulted in any reprimands if not for his disability complaint." He added, "It's an awesome undertaking to sue the state of California. But I had to do this. I would have regretted it forever if I didn't." The state plans to appeal the decision (Bustillo, 4/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.