Just after Georgia, New York, and Oklahoma have passed new whistleblower laws similar to the federal False Claims Act to protect at least state Medicaid funds, Texas is poised to do even more.
We were pleased to see that, on May 4, Texas upgraded its already successful Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act. The changes were designed to allow Texas to receive a greater share of Medicaid fraud recoveries, as we have written about previously on this whistleblowerlawyerblog. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 creates incentives for states to pass False Claims Acts with qui tam whistleblower provisions that are at least as effective as the federal False Claims Act.
Also smart and beneficial to taxpayers, the Texas Senate and a House Committee also have passed a new “Texas False Claims Act,” S.B 1309, which protects state funds other than simply those in the State Medicaid Program. It makes sense from a taxpayer’s perspective to protect all state funds from fraud and false claims, and Texas appears ready to do so.
We saw that the new draft Texas False Claims Act contains an interesting new provision to allow recovery from someone who is “a beneficiary of an inadvertent submission of a false claim” who keeps the money after discovering it came from a false claim.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office has been extremely effective using the old law in recovering money in health care fraud cases for the State, primarily due to the work of the group headed by Patrick O’Connell. The new legislation should only improve Texas’ ability to recover funds obtained fraudulently from the State.
Did Texas not wish to see Georgia and other states that have only lately passed whistleblower statutes move ahead of Texas? And will states like Georgia and Oklahoma realize that perhaps all state taxpayer money should be protected, as Texas is apparently about to do?
Congratulations, Texas, on continuing to be an example for other states to follow in protecting public money.