Budget repeals Wisconsin Medicaid whistle-blower provision

The latest state budget includes a surprise for potential whistle-blowers who would seek to report Medicaid fraud under the auspices of the Wisconsin False Claims for Medical Assistance Act: the act has been repealed.

The repeal of the Act, which was enacted in 2007 and modeled on the Federal False Claims Act, was undertaken with little publicity before or after the budget passage. Lawmakers who have been contacted about the repeal have been tight-lipped about it before and after it took effect; no public hearings about the repeal were held in advance, and legislators have either not replied to inquiries about the repeal or have referred to other legislators who have not replied.

The Act allowed whistle-blowers to collect a percentage of monies recovered from Medicaid fraud claims. Sometimes such claim amounts could amount to tens of millions of dollars. Proponents of the law have claimed that it saves the state money and discourages fraudulent behavior, but opponents — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — have said that the main effect of the law was to enrich attorneys who represented whistle-blower claims, going so far as to call such awards “outrageous”.

The repeal of the Act does not mean that those seeking to report fraud and abuse in Medicaid are without any recourse. The Federal False Claims Act remains in place. Those who believe that they are aware of Medicaid fraud, or any other kind of fraud involving misuse of state or federal funds by private companies or individuals, can still speak with an attorney in confidence that their names will not be divulged and that they will not be retaliated against.

Source: Journal-Sentinel, “Budget includes repeal of Medicaid whistle-blower provision,” Guy Boulton, July 10, 2015

Secondary Source: FCA Update, “Wisconsin Repeals State FCA,” David Chen, July 15, 2015

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