May 21, 2013 — In Pennsylvania, one city (Philadelphia) and one county (Allegheny County — where Pittsburgh is located), have passed False Claims Act laws making it a crime for city or county contractors to submit false claims for reimbursement. Still, the state of Pennsylvania has yet to join the District of Columbia and the other 29 states that have enacted False Claims Act legislation that is similar in many regards to the federal False Claims Act. Under the federal statute, private individuals are authorized by the qui tam provisions of the Act to file suit for the benefit of the government and then retain a share of anything the government collects in a judgment or settlement.
Pennsylvania May Soon Have a False Claims Act to Call its Own
According to Law360, two Pennsylvania state representatives are planning to introduce a bill that would create a False Claims Act to combat fraud and waste in state government. Representative Anthony DeLuca of Allegheny and Representative Brandon Neuman of Washington urge that the proposed statute would enable the state to recoup losses incurred every year as a result of Medicaid fraud. As the representatives point out, from 1986 to 2011, the federal government has netted at least $31 billion as a result of False Claims Act suits.
The legislators note in particular a 2007 federal statute that gives individual states an increased percentage of the recovery in any federal False Claims Act suit for Medicaid fraud if the state has its own qualifying False Claims Act. The increased recovery is an extra ten percent. Even if Pennsylvania lawmakers refuse to pass a statute that meets federal guidelines, however, the state could still use its own statute to prosecute Medicaid fraud claims against health care providers that submit false claims for reimbursement.
The first time that legislation was introduced to enact a state False Claims Act was in 1999. The most recent try was in 2011. The bill never emerged from the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee.
Government Notified of False Claims Act Violations by Inside Health Care Employees
Medicaid fraud schemes are often exposed by inside informants employed by the health care providers involved. It is seldom easy to notify the government when your employer is engaged in fraud, even though you know the conduct is wrong and want no part of it. Informants who are courageous enough to step forward deserve to know their legal rights ahead of time. The qui tam lawyers with Waters & Kraus provide whistleblowers with the legal counsel they need to make a difference. Contact us by email or call our False Claims Act attorneys at 855.784.0268 to discuss how we can protect the interests of government collaborators.