The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has just announced that it has reviewed and approved of Hawaii’s version of a False Claims Act. Thus Hawaii joins four other approved states (Illinois, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Virginia) and is now entitled to receive federal funding under section 6031(b) of the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005..
Federal and state “whistleblower” and/or “false claims” statutes have existed in United States since the American Civil War. Many of these laws contain “qui tam” provisions (which is short for “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hoc parte sequitur” or “he who sues for the king, sues for himself as well”). Qui tam provisions reward those with knowledge of fraud or abuse who ‘blow the whistle’ by allowing them to partake in a share of the State’s recovery.
Based upon its recognition of the power of these laws, the federal government has agreed to share a portion of any recovered funds with any states that have adopted laws that:
(1) Create liability for fraud associated with the state Medicaid program;
(2) Contain provisions that are equal or equivalent to the federal False Claims Act from the perspective of rewarding whistleblowers and facilitating qui tam actions;
(3) Authorizes the filing of an action under seal;
(4) Impose civil penalties in an amount equal to or greater than the amount provided under the federal False Claims Act.
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