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$1.68 million. That’s what company controlling millions in taxpayer dollars wants back from fired CEO

Article in the Winston Salem Journal today:

Cardinal Innovations filed a lawsuit Monday in Mecklenburg Superior Court against fired chief executive Richard Topping.

The state’s largest managed care organization – which controls hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars – is suing to recoup $1.68 million in severance from Topping, as well as prevent him from collecting any further payments approved by the former board that was disbanded Nov. 27.

The lawsuit says Topping’s severance represents “excessive and unlawful payments.”

Cardinal oversees providers of services for mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse for more than 850,000 Medicaid enrollees in 20 counties, including Forsyth and five others in the Triad. It handles more than $675 million in annual federal and state Medicaid money.

shhhhtoppings

An investigation by McGuireWoods LLP was requested by a reconstituted board, formed in January and approved by state health Secretary Mandy Cohen, along with interim chief executive Trey Sutten. It was conducted by McGuireWoods partner Kurt Meyers, a former federal prosecutor.

The lawsuit represents a new action by Cardinal, and is not in response to the previous board’s lawsuit against the state to allow for executive salaries, including for Topping, that exceeded those permitted by state law.

However, it does represent a follow-up on the temporary restraining order and then preliminary injunction won against Topping and the former board filed in the same court.

The injunction prevents Topping and the former board from interfering with N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ regulatory actions versus Cardinal that began when Cohen ordered the takeover of the organization on Nov. 27.

The former board took action against Topping’s employment at its Nov. 17 meeting by terminating his contract without cause. The board, at Topping’s request, would have been allowed to stay on through Dec. 1.

Cardinal said in the lawsuit that “Topping’s motive in asking the board to allow him to remain CEO was so that he could use his position as CEO to ensure that Cardinal Innovations paid him the lump-sum severance before his departure.”

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Now to my opinion:

Disclosure: I have not read the Complaint and would love someone to send it to me. But, on the face of this article, my experience in the legal world, and my limited knowledge about the whole Topping debacle:

While we can all agree that Topping’s salary, plus bonuses and perks, was absolutely repugnant and offensive to taxpayers (like me), Topping did not get there all by himself. The Board of Directors met, discussed Topping’s salary, and voted to give him that salary. The Board of Directors, essentially, is the heart and the brain of Cardinal Innovations.

Is Cardinal Innovations going to sue itself for bestowing such an outrageous salary, plus benefits, to Topping?

Because if I am Topping and I get sued for having a high salary, I am going to point at the Board of Directors and say, “I couldn’t have gotten paid without your votes, Board. So have fun and sue yourself.”

BTW: Isn’t this lawsuit a conflict of interest?? It was only last year that Cardinal filed a lawsuit asking the court to ALLOW TOPPING TO CONTINUE TO RECEIVE SUCH OUTRAGEOUS SALARY THAT NOW – SAME COMPANY – IS SUING BECAUSE IT GAVE THIS SALARY TO IT CEO…which is it, Cardinal? Or is it just a matter of following the wind of public opinion? 

Not to mention – HOW IS CARDINAL FUNDING THE LAWSUIT (ATTORNEYS’ FEES) – WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS!!!!!!! I mean, good for Womble Carlyle, the law firm hired with our tax dollars to spend more money on a losing case (my opinion) because Cardinal mismanaged our tax dollars! Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Last year it got paid to file a lawsuit to keep Topping’s salary and perks. Five months later it’s hired to sue for giving Topping’s salary and perks. See blog.

Does anyone else not see how screwed up this is?????

Another Win! 12 Million Dollar Recoupment Reduced to $896 – But There is a Twist

One of our clients in New Mexico had an alleged Medicaid recoupment of over $12 million!! Actually, $12,015,850.00 – to be exact. (See below). After we presented our evidence and testimony, the Judge found that we owe $896.35. I call that a win!

In this case, the Human Services Department (HSD) in New Mexico had reviewed 150 random claims. Initially, HSD claimed that 41 claims out of 150 were noncompliant.

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But, prior to the hearing, we saved over $10 million by pointing out HSD’s errors and/or by providing additional documentation.

And then the ALJ’s decision after we presented our evidence and testimony –

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Boom! Drop the mike…

…………………………….not so fast…

……………………………………………..picking the mike back up…

You see, in New Mexico, the administrative law judges (ALJs) cannot render decisions. Look in the above picture. You see where it reads, “Recommendation?” That is because the ALJs in New Mexico can only render recommendations.

Because Medicaid has a “single state agency” rule; i.e., that only one agency may render discretionary decisions regarding Medicaid, and HSD is the single state agency in New Mexico charged with managing Medicaid, only HSD may render a discretionary decision. So in NM, the ALJ makes a recommendation and then the Secretary of HSD has the choice to either accept or reject the decision.

Guess whether HSD accepted or rejected the ALJ’s recommendation?

reject

Now we will have to appeal the Agency’s Decision to overturn the ALJ recommendation.

Here, in NC, we obtained a waiver from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to allow our ALJs to render Decisions. See blog.

I still consider this a win.

Knicole Emanuel Rappelling Down the Wells Fargo Building for Charity TOMORROW

Tomorrow at 11am, I will rappel down the Wells Fargo building in order to raise money for Special Olympics North Carolina (which is a charitable corporation near and dear to my heart).

Yikes!!!

The Wells Fargo  building “is a 30-story 121.92 m skyscraper at 150 Fayetteville Street in Raleigh, North Carolina with 544,482 square feet (50,584.0 m2) of space. Completed in 1990, it was one of the downtown Raleigh’s two tallest buildings for nearly twenty years, and is currently third tallest.”  See Wikipedia.

My wonderful law firm, Williams Mullen, paid the charity fee in order to give me the opportunity to (a) raise money for the Special Olympics; and (b) rappel down a building.  My partner Mr. Fowler said, “Let me get this straight…we are paying money to put you in danger.” (I may be paraphrasing). 

🙂 Yes. But it’s for the Special Olympics!!!

FAQ:

1. Am I scared?  Yes.  But, actually, my biggest fear is throwing up on spectators’ heads.

2. Have I ever rappelled before?  Yes, but on a very small rock about 20 years ago.  I have no idea how to do this.

3. Am I scared of heights?  So-so.  I like to think not, but whenever I’m very high, my heart leaps up my throat.

4.  Am I insured?  Yes.

5.  Is my husband ok with this?  Yes.  I am insured.

6.  Is my daughter ok with this?  Yes.  She is 8 and very upset that she cannot rappel down herself (she measures herself daily to determine whether she meets the height requirement to ride the roller coasters at Carrowinds).

7.  Is my mother ok with this?  No.

8.  Will it be video-ed?  I did not pay for that.  My husband will have a phone and a camera.

9.  What will I do to prepare?  Nothing…remember, I have no idea what I am doing.

10.  Will I look down?  I have no idea.  I’d love to think that I will be very dramatic rappelling down…jumping far from the building and doing acrobats, but the reality is that I will probably close my eyes and pray.

So, if you would like to see me possibly throw up on your head, please be at the Wells Fargo building downtown Raleigh tomorrow at 11am.

150 Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NC.