Late last month, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange urged Alabama lawmakers to establish a False Claims Act for the state in order to increase the funds available for medical services for Alabama’s most needy citizens.
Strange observed that “Medicaid is a lifeline” to a fifth of the population and that it needs to operate more efficiently in order to prevent vital medical services from being further reduced or curtailed.
Presently, the state’s Medicaid plan is projecting an $85 million budget deficit and Strange believes he has a two-step plan to correct this problem:
- permit the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit or MFCU to pursue more overpayments; and
- give citizens the ability to prosecute False Claims Act qui tam cases on behalf of the government.
Strange noted that the State’s MFCU boasted a 17:1 return on investment over the last five years, recovering more than $86 million with an operating cost of just $5 million. To capitalize on this return, Strange is supporting Alabama Senate Bill 284, which will double the statute of limitations from three years to six so that the MFCU can reach further back in time to hopefully double the amount of recovered money over the next five years.
Most importantly for whistleblowers, Alabama Senate Bill 216 will for the first time in the state’s history establish a civil enforcement tool for private litigants to recover money on behalf of the government. If the bill becomes law, then Alabama will join the 31 other states that have already put False Claims Act statutes in place to protect the public funds.
We’ll certainly be tracking both bills and hope that they receive the bipartisan support that they deserve given that both will go a long way to recover millions of dollars in taxpayer money paid by all the state’s citizens.