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Alaska Editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 24, 2014 at 12:58 pm •  Published: September 24, 2014
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Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

Sept. 24, 2014

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Xerox billing rollout has hurt Alaska patients, doctors

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.

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Sept. 23, 2014

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Broadcaster's dramatic departure eroded faith in objective reporting

If you have a pulse and an Internet connection — or live within shouting distance of someone who does — the odds are very good that within the last 36 hours you became acquainted with former KTVA news reporter Charlo Greene and her departure from the station's employment. But while social and conventional media were abuzz about Ms. Greene's abrupt departure and what she said to punctuate it, what got lost in many conversations was the profound lapse in ethics that Ms. Greene displayed by handling the intersection of her two jobs the way she did.

A little background: until midway through the 10 p.m. news broadcast on Sunday, Ms. Greene was a reporter for Anchorage CBS affiliate KTVA. Unbeknownst to station management or her coworkers there, she also maintained a second business interest — as the sole proprietor of the Alaska Cannabis Club, a business that connects Alaska medical marijuana cardholders in need of the drug with other cardholders who have it.

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