In what appears to be good news for Connecticut whistleblowers, on May 10, 2023, Connecticut’s State House approved legislation to expand the scope of the State’s False Claim Act (“FCA”). The State House sent the bill to the State Senate for further action. The legislation expands the reach of the FCA by removing provisions that limit the law’s scope to state-administered health and human service programs.
The State first enacted the Connecticut False Claims Act for Medical Assistance Programs in 2009. Like many state FCAs, the Connecticut version was based on the federal equivalent. But as the name suggests, it’s limited to tackling cases involving false claims made to the State’s medical assistance programs. So while Connecticut’s FCA has proven to be a useful tool in combatting healthcare fraud, it remains relatively weak compared to neighboring states’ FCAs.
In its current state, Connecticut’s FCA only applies to programs administered by nine (9) state agencies – all of which are in the healthcare industry. However, there are almost 100 different state agencies, offices, and quasi-public agencies that spend Connecticut tax dollars. As a result of this limited authority, many state legislators and prosecutors have sought to expand the strength, scope, and authority of the State’s FCA to police non-healthcare industries.
House Bill 6926, which passed the State House with a bipartisan 138-7 vote, resulted from this push to strengthen Connecticut’s FCA. The proposed bill expands the reach of the State’s FCA to include most of the aforementioned 100 state programs and benefits that receive State funding. This expansion removes the limitations on the types of fraud that can be investigated under the FCA, allowing the State’s Office of Attorney General to pursue fraud and abuse of tax dollars anywhere in the State’s government.
This comprehensive authority increases the State’s power to pursue fraud cases involving non-healthcare industries and allows FCA cases to be handled with greater flexibility and efficiency. States with similar False Claims Acts successfully pursue a wide range of cases including wage theft, contracting requirements, defective equipment, construction conditions, environmental testing, and more.
Due to the popularity and bipartisan appeal of the Bill, it’s likely to make it past the State Senate and become Connecticut law. It remains to be seen how whistleblowers and State prosecutors will utilize the statute and what industries, if any, emerge as the focal points of enforcement efforts. That being said, the Bill will undoubtedly increase the effectiveness of the State’s fraud-fighting efforts.