Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has signed a revised false-claims law intended to bring the state statute in line with the federal version and qualify for a bigger share of dollars recovered in Medicaid fraud cases.
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 included a carrot for states with laws at least as strict as the federal False Claims Act, promising an additional 10% of the take. HHS inspector generals office in December notified Florida that its law missed the mark. One reason cited was a shorter statute of limitations for whistle-blowers to come forward.
This new law will provide us with the tools necessary to strengthen our investigation and prosecution of individuals who are cheating the system and will enable us to return vital Medicaid resources to the intended recipients, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said in a news release.
The inspector generals office has reviewed 12 state laws so far, and approved six, most recently Texas on June 20.
These are incredibly powerful laws, and they can recover lots and lots of money, said Patrick Burns, spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud. But a law does not enforcement make. What you need is an attorney general and a team of folks who are focused on Medicaid fraud recoveries.
McCollum, when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, pushed a 1998 bill backed by the hospital industry intended to rein in the application of the False Claims Act in healthcare cases. The legislation was dropped after the Justice Department adopted guidelines to address the industry's concerns. -- by Gregg Blesch