Consumer Fraud

Washington Governor Signs Bill Preserving State’s Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act

Pills Stethascope on Money 435x289 Washington Governor Signs Bill Preserving State’s Medicaid Fraud False Claims ActWashington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill to preserve the state’s Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act, enacted in 2012, before its automatic June 30 expiration date.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson had requested the a bill to preserve the False Claims Act, saying it had become one of the state’s best fraud-busting weapons in recent years. The Act authorizes the attorney general to file civil suits against health care providers that defraud the Medicaid program.

“Thanks to action by the governor and the Legislature, my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit can continue recovering stolen dollars lost to fraud, deterring misuse of government funds, and holding fraudsters accountable,” Mr. Ferguson said in a statement.

The state’s False Claims Act also contains whistleblower provisions that allow a private party to sue on behalf of the state in circumstances where fraud is suspected and well documented.

According to The Chronicle, Senate bill 6156 “eliminates a sunset for most of the act and extends the sunset on whistleblower provisions until 2023.”

In December, Washington’s Joint Legislative Audit & Review unanimously threw its support behind the bill’s renewal after finding that there was no evidence it encourages frivolous claims – an argument commonly used by some business groups that oppose false claims laws and whistleblower protections.

“This bill will ensure that patients are getting the care they need and that the government investments in patient care are being used effectively and efficiently,” said Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma), who supported the bill and sponsored a companion bill. “Since we first enacted this, we’ve had a 3–1 return on investment. That’s what accountability looks like.”

Since SB 6156 was passed, Washington has recovered $3 for every $1 it invested in pursuing cases of civil fraud, increasing recoveries nearly 30 percent.  The False Claims Act has helped Washington recover more than $6 million in Medicaid funds.

Source: The (Lewis County) Chronicle