- Associated Press - Saturday, October 18, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Matt Callister knows how to draw attention.

It’s not his yellow button-down shirts and beaten leather jacket that stand out. Nor is it his cheekbone-length golden hair and woody voice, gnarled by the cigarettes that he kindles with a lighter wrapped in yellow tape. It’s not the highlighter, hanging on his chest by a makeshift lanyard, either.

Callister catches the eye because of the legal battles he fights. His law firm’s mantra is “fight back.” And the way he fights them, well, is like no one else.

The 58-year-old attorney specializes in class-action lawsuits and his current battle is against the State of Nevada and Xerox, the company that built flawed software for the state’s health care exchange.

His case accuses Xerox and the state of negligence in operating the Silver State Exchange, the insurance marketplace operating under the Affordable Care Act in Nevada. The heart of the case is that plaintiffs paid for health insurance without receiving it.

Callister, a former state lawmaker, talked to the Las Vegas Sun about lobbyists, bullfighting and Gov. Brian Sandoval. His answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

SUN: In your opinion, is health care in the U.S. better or worse since the passage of the Affordable Care Act?

CALLISTER: I think health care overall is better. Now, people who could not qualify for health care now can. But the jury is still out only because nobody really knows what the ultimate impact of the ACA will be.

SUN: You’re a former state lawmaker. What would you have done differently in creating the laws governing the Silver State Exchange?

CALLISTER: What you do in all cases - especially where there is a multimillion-dollar bid for some new, significant piece of computer hardware and software - is engage in a bid process. I would want the people who judge and determine those bids to be absolutely independent and to have skills and expertise in health care and large scale computing systems. I fear the board was won over by a good lobbying effort. If something should be divorced from a good lobbying effort, it should be this kind of project.

SUN: If you had one question for Gov. Brian Sandoval about the exchange, what would it be?

CALLISTER: What did his staff know and when did they know it in regards to the failures of Xerox to produce an operational, functional product.

SUN: You once participated in a bullfight in Costa Rica. You were also a state lawmaker and city councilman. What’s more dangerous, dodging horns or a political battle?

CALLISTER: A political battle, 10 times over.

SUN: As an attorney, you’re not afraid to speak out and use the media to spread your message. Why is that a part of your philosophy?

CALLISTER: When you’re dealing with the stuff I enjoy, which is public litigation, you have to use the media in the sense that they are going to get the message out. When you are talking about large group liability action, if you don’t speak to the media you’re foreclosing your best possible ally for getting noticed. There’s no other way to do it.

SUN: How many people do you suspect paid for health insurance without receiving it because of the Xerox software?

CALLISTER: The easy answer is 6,000 on the low end and 10,000 on the high end.


Information from: Las Vegas Sun, https://www.lasvegassun.com

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