The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved an amended version of SB 272, the Maryland False Health Claims Act of 2009. The bill will be voted on by the full Senate this week. (UPDATE: The Senate vote has been pushed back to Tuesday, March 24)
This legislation would authorize a person to file suit on behalf of the state for an alleged false claim and recover up to 30 percent of the proceeds of the suit, plus attorney’s fees and costs. In increasing lawsuits against health care providers, it will drive up health care costs for employers and further limit access to health care in Maryland.
Similar legislation was narrowly defeated on the Senate floor last year. We encourage you to contact your State Senator, and urge them to oppose SB 272.
This legislation would add duplicative new layers of penalties for offenses that are already illegal under existing state and federal law. While we support vigorous enforcement of the law against persons attempting to defraud the state, we do not endorse creating a bounty hunting system for individuals to pursue these claims.
It is the state’s job to enforce state law. Existing state law provides for the collection of triple damages for Medicaid fraud, with felony sanctions and imprisonment for egregious cases. These state laws are supplemented by the federal False Claims Act that already provides an avenue for a private citizen to file suit on behalf of the federal government for alleged false claims and receive a share of recoveries. Duplicating the federal law at the state level will increase the number of lawsuits without assuring any increase in fraud recoveries. Contact your Senator today.