Once again, Pennsylvania legislators have the opportunity to adopt a state False Claims Act. The federal False Claims Act (FCA) was enacted in 1863 to redress fraud perpetrated by companies that sold supplies to the Union Army during the Civil War. Since its enactment, the FCA has been amended three times – in 1943, 1986, and 2009. Since the 1986 amendments were signed into law, the FCA has returned more than $28 billion to the federal treasury and has deterred even more fraudulent activity.
In is well-recognize that the qui tam provisions of the FCA permit whistle-blowers to recover between 15 and 30 percent of the United States’ recovery. (Qui tam is short for a Latin phrase that roughly means “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.”) The FCA thus encourages individuals to come forward with information of government contractor fraud and rewards them for their integrity.
In addition to the federal FCA, 27 states and the District of Columbia have enacted analogous state false-claims acts. New York, Chicago, and Allegheny County, Pa., (enacted in May) have their own versions. Since 2000, states that have enacted false-claims laws have recovered more than $7 billion. FCA recoveries have consistently increased over the last several years, and this trend is expected to continue. It is well-recognized that State False-claims acts also promote public safety and the integrity of federal, state, and local programs.
Our Commonwealth currently lacks adequate protection from the fraud and abuse that drain millions every year from the state programs, from Medicaid to infrastructure projects. A Pennsylvania False Claims Act would allow whistleblowers who discover false or fraudulent claims to sue the perpetrators and recover the funds for the Commonwealth.
In nearly every regular session of the state House since 1999, representatives from both parties have proposed a false-claims act. On June 24, House Bill 1725, authored by State Rep. Mike Gerber (D., Montgomery), was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, but the panel has not voted on it. While the bill languishes in committee, the Commonwealth is missing the opportunity to deter fraud and recoup much-needed funds.
Its time the state legislation created a vehicle for private citizens to be awarded for policing our public programs.
* * * * *
If you feel you may have information concerning fraud against the government, please call 800-590-4116 for a FREE AND CONFIDENTIAL attorney consultation today.