Articles Posted in State False Claims Acts

The wave of new State False Claims Acts has generated a flurry of letters from the Office of Inspector General of HHS this past week. OIG has now “approved” the new State False Claims Acts of California, Georgia, Indiana, and Rhode Island, but has “disapproved” those of six other states: Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

As this whistleblower lawyer blog has written about extensively, Congress has created financial incentives for states to enact their own versions of the highly successful qui tam whistleblower law, the False Claims Act, which is the government’s primary tool for combating fraud directed at taxpayer funds.

Under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, each state that has a False Claims Act that is at least as effective in facilitating and rewarding qui tam actions as the Federal False Claims Act in protecting state Medicaid funds is entitled to a greater share of fraud recoveries from those actions.

At the annual “Continuing Judicial Education” conference in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia this week, I was honored to be invited to speak to the assembled judges about the new state False Claims Act in Georgia, the State False Medicaid Claims Act.

As this whistleblower lawyer blog has written about extensively, there is a wave of new state False Claims Acts across the country, as Congress has urged states to replicate the dramatic successes of the federal False Claims Act in stopping those who steal taxpayer funds.

In 2007 and 2008 to date, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin have joined the 16 other states that have enacted some version of the False Claims Act.

This past week, more than 450 of the country’s best employment lawyers who represent individuals gathered in Atlanta for the National Employment Lawyers Association’s Annual Conference.

I had the pleasure of appearing with a group of excellent attorneys on a panel of that discussed “Strategic Thinking in Whistleblower Cases,” moderated by Robin Potter of Chicago (who won a major victory last week).Speakers at the 2008 NELA Conference panel on “Strategic Thinking in Whistleblower Cases” were (front row) David Marshall and Bryan J. Schwartz, and (back row) Michael A. Sullivan and Mark Kleiman.

David Marshall of D.C.’s Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP began by discussing how nesessary whistleblowers are, as well as important considerations in pursuing Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower cases.

A wave of new “whistleblower” laws continues, inspired by the successes of the federal False Claims Act. These new laws include (1) state versions of the federal False Claims Act, and (2) the new IRS Whistleblower Rewards Program. At the same time, in 2008 Congress is considering legislation to strengthen the False Claims Act.

This article focuses on the new state False Claims Acts, which mirror the federal False Claims Act in important respects, but can differ in some significant ways. For employees who report fraud against the government and who face adverse employment actions, these new whistleblower laws may provide substantial relief.One of the new state whistleblower laws, the Georgia “State False Medical Claims Act,” became law on May 24, 2007. Participating in the signing ceremony with Governor Sonny Perdue were (shown above from left to right) Carrie Downing, Director of Legislative and External Affairs of the Georgia Department of Community Health; Dr. Rhonda Medows, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health; Inspector General Doug Colburn; Governor Perdue; Rep. Edward Lindsey, sponsor of the State False Medicaid Claims Act; whistleblower lawyer blog author Michael A. Sullivan of Finch McCranie, LLP; and Philip Consuegra, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Lindsey.

These new state False Claims Acts and the federal False Claims Act create civil liability for treble damages and potentially huge penalties for fraud and false claims submitted to the government. They authorize “qui tam” or “whistleblower” lawsuits by employees or other persons, who may share in the government’s recovery, as well as allow employees to recover damages for retaliation. These state False Claims Acts, like the federal Act, have unique procedural requirements that are foreign to most lawyers.

This article explains how the state False Claims Acts work, which itself requires an explanation of the unique and sometimes perplexing federal False Claims Act on which these state Acts are based. This article summarizes the background of the federal False Claims Act, outlines how it operates, and discusses the Act’s increasing use to combat fraud directed at public funds. This article also highlights the important differences between state False Claims Acts and the federal False Claims Act by focusing especially on one example, the new Georgia State False Medicaid Claims Act. Finally, this article also compares other states’ False Claims Acts, their retaliation provisions, and some of the recoveries that states have obtained to date.
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The trend of new state False Claims Acts with qui tam whistleblower provisions continues, as Louisiana considers whether to adopt its own version of the federal False Claims Act.

The growing number of state False Claims Acts has been a frequent topic of this whistleblower lawyer blog. In 2007, New York, Georgia, and Oklahoma joined the 16 other states that have enacted versions of the federal False Claims Act, the government’s primary weapon for fighting fraud against taxpayers.

New Jersey enacted its new False Claims Act in January 2008. It became the 20th state with such a qui tam whistleblower law.

This whistleblower lawyer blog reported earlier that the New Jersey Assembly had passed the New Jersey False Claims Act, which provides incentives to whistleblowers (“relators”) to expose fraud affecting state funds–much like the federal False Claims Act does.

Governor Jon Corzine signed the new bill into law yesterday, which makes New Jersey the 20th state to enact a state False Claims Act with qui tam whistleblower provisions similar to those of the federal False Claims Act. (Click here for a detailed explanation of the False Claims Act and why states are passing their own False Claims Acts.)

New Jersey’s citizens should be proud that their taxpayer dollars have the additional protection of the new statute. Congratulations to all who accomplished this result!

The wave of new state False Claims Acts with qui tam whistleblower provisions has been a frequent topic of this whistleblower lawyer blog. In 2007, New York, Georgia, and Oklahoma joined the 16 other states that have enacted versions of the federal False Claims Act, the government’s primary weapon for fighting fraud against taxpayers.

Today, New Jersey’s Assembly unanimously passed the New Jersey State False Claims Act, which upon signature by the Governor will make New Jersey the 20th state to have a state version of the venerable qui tam whistleblower statute.

We congratulate New Jersey for taking the prudent action of passing a state False Claims Act. As we have written about extensively, Congress through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 has created financial incentives for states that pass such qui tam whistleblower laws that are at least as effective as the federal False Claims Act.

The New Jersey False Claims Act expands on the federal Act. It also includes criminal provisions as well as civil liability for treble damages and civil penalties. The text of the Act passed today is reprinted below:
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2007 has been a most significant year for whistleblowers. The whistleblower lawyer blog attorneys look back on some of the milestones:

1. As soon as Congress authorized the first meaningful IRS Whistleblower Rewards Program to pay tax whistleblowers 15-30% of IRS recoveries from those who violate the tax laws by statue effective on December 20, 2006, beginning in January our whistleblower lawyers submitted some of the first IRS Whistleblower claims in the nation under the new law. Our IRS Whistleblower cases have continued to grow throughout the year.

2. Our IRS whistleblower submissions have led to criminal and civil investigations over tax cheating, and our whistleblower clients are in a position to receive 15-30% of the amount of collected proceeds (including penalties, interest, additions to tax, and additional amounts) recovered by the IRS.

At a conference on False Claims Act Litigation on November 30, attorneys representing the government, relators or whistleblowers, and defendants gathered to discuss whistleblower law issues. The conference was organized by the law firm of Balch & Bingham LLP.

This whistleblower lawyer blog writer had the pleasure of appearing on a panel with the Chief of the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta, Amy Berne, and with Balch & Bingham’s John Markus.

Amy Berne opened with an overview of how the government handles False Claims Act cases, and answered many questions about what affects the government’s assessment of an FCA case. It is always informative to be able to ask the chief prosecutor what influences her decisions.

Our whistleblower lawyer blog attorneys have written extensively about Georgia’s enactment of the new State False Medicaid Claims Act, a new whistleblower law that an attorney with our law firm helped enact. This qui tam whistleblower law has applicability to anyone who files a false or fraudulent claim for reimbursement with the State’s Medicaid program.

A classic example of this would be filing false claims for reimbursement for unnecessary and/or unauthorized laboratory tests. If a health care provider submits false or fraudulent claims for reimbursement under the State Medicaid program for performing lab tests which are not properly authorized by a medical physician, or do not otherwise meet Medicaid standards for reimbursement, such a submission could constitute a false claim against the Medicaid program, thus entitling any whistleblower reporting that claim to a reward for reporting Medicaid fraud. One such case, recently filed by the State of Massachusetts, indicates just how expensive such claims may be for the taxpayer.

Last week, in Boston, Boston Clinical Laboratories, Inc. was alleged to have submitted 66,000 false Medicaid claims for urine drug screens in circumstances where they were not ordered by an authorized prescriber or were ordered for non-medical purposes. According to allegations made by the Massachusetts Attorney General, many of these laboratory urine screens were to monitor sobriety tests for the individuals and were not approved for medical reasons. Under state regulations, eligible Medicaid claims are limited to laboratory services prescribed by a physician and must serve a medically necessary purpose. Court ordered and Social Service Agency drug testing, as well as testing for resident sobriety in out-patient treatment facilities, are not covered under the Medicaid program.