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Connecticut State House Approves Expansion to State’s False Claim Act

by Julian Lortz | Jul 7, 2023 | Whistleblowers

On May 10, 2023, Connecticut’s General Assembly approved legislation expanding the scope of the State’s False Claim Act (“FCA”), allowing the bill to proceed to the State Senate for further action. The proposed legislation would expand the reach of the Act by removing current provisions that limit the scope of the law 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. Still, as the name suggests, it’s limited to tackling cases involving false claims made to the State’s medical assistance programs. Since most state and federal FCA cases involve fraudulent healthcare claims, Connecticut’s FCA has proven to be a useful tool in combatting fraud but remains relatively weak compared to similar legislation in neighboring states.

In its current state, Connecticut’s FCA only applies to programs administered by nine state agencies, even though almost one hundred different agencies, offices, and quasi-public agencies spend tax dollars on behalf of the state. As a result of this limited authority, many state legislators and prosecutors have recently sought to expand the scope and authority of the State’s FCA to strengthen its ability to combat fraud.

House Bill 6926, which passed the State House in a 138-7 vote, resulted from this push to strengthen Connecticut’s FCA and bring the State’s anti-fraud legislation up to par with its neighboring states. The proposed bill would expand the reach of the State’s FCA to include most programs and benefits that receive State funding. This expansion would remove the current limitations on what agencies 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 more comprehensive authority would increase the State’s power to pursue fraud cases involving industries other than healthcare and allow FCA cases to be handled flexibly and efficiently. States with similar False Claims Acts have successfully pursued cases regarding 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 a permanent feature of Connecticut law. It remains to be seen how whistleblowers and State prosecutors utilize the statute and what industries, if any, emerge as the primary focal points of enforcement efforts. That being said, the bill will undoubtedly increase the effectiveness of the State’s fraud-fighting efforts.

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