WBAL-TV of Baltimore reports that the Maryland legislature is moving forward with a bill to create a "Little FCA" in Maryland. Modeled on the federal False Claims Act (FCA), and looking for the benefits of the Grassley Amendment, Little FCAs provide financial rewards to whistleblowers who file sealed complaints against fraud by government contractors. Under the Grassley Amendment, state and local governments with Little FCAs receive a higher percentage of the fraud recoveries in their states. The WBAL story reports that Virginia has recovered $228 million a year since adopting their Little FCA.
Who can say no to free money for the state treasury? WBAL reports that medical providers and the Chamber of Commerce have opposed the bill. However, none would speak to WBAL. What would they say? "We should be able to get away with fraud"? WBAL says critics have previously claimed that the reward provision would encourage frivolous lawsuit and put pressure on businesses to settle. The $228 million Virginia gets every year does not sound frivolous to me. The pressure to settle, though, sounds pretty good. Indeed, the FCA’s reward provision is the most effective tool ever in the detection and proof of frauds against the government.
The administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley said the bill is likely to be amended. My suggestion: don’t limit the bill to medical fraud. Maryland deserves to get the enhanced recovery for all frauds in the state.