A new qui tam whistleblower law has cleared another hurdle toward passage. Georgia’s Senate Insurance and Labor Committee unanimously approved the new “State False Medicaid Claims Act” this afternoon. As we have written about previously on this whistleblower lawyer blog, the new whistleblower law has already passed the Georgia House.
After an introduction by Senator Seth Harp, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Edward Lindsey, asked Inspector General Doug Colburn of the Department of Community Health and attorney Michael A. Sullivan (co-author of this whistleblower lawyer blog) of Finch McCranie, LLP to join him in testifying about how the new whistleblower law would work. Rep. Lindsey explained the incentives that Congress has provided to states to enact their own qui tam whistleblower laws, and then asked Sullivan to explain how the law would function.
Sullivan testified about the successes of the federal False Claims Act in not only recovering money from those who have defrauded the government, but also serving as a deterrent to those who might otherwise cheat the public. He explained how the funds recovered have increased dramatically since the 1986 Amendments that created the modern False Claims Act, especially in the health care area. Sullivan also described other states’ successes with their own whistleblower statutes, as well as the strict review of state false claims statutes by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Inspector General Colburn explained to the Senators some of the other major provisions of the bill, and answered questions about the amount of suspected Medicaid fraud in his state. The Senators also questioned Rep. Lindsey, Inspector General Colburn, and Sullivan about how the bill would apply to medical providers in certain examples.
Although representatives of the health care industry were present, none cam forward to speak out against the bill or express any concerns.
The Committee voted unanimously to approve the new whistleblower law. It moves on to the Senate Rules Committee before consideration by the full Georgia Senate.
Once again, we at Finch McCranie, LLP are proud to be part of the process of helping enact laws that stop fraud against the government. We will continue to report on the progress of these smart and cost-effective laws both in Georgia and in other states.