Eliminating Medicaid fraud is a shared goal of all involved in the system. But your editorial (TNT, 4-2) inaccurately described the debate in Olympia surrounding House Bill 1067.
The 2012 Medicaid False Claims Act (FCA) contained a bipartisan 2016 sunset provision for third-party lawsuits to be brought under the act. This is an important distinction missed in the editorial. Regardless of HB 1067, the attorney general continues to have full authority to investigate and prosecute fraud.
As required under the FCA, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) will soon conduct a study on the results of the act. But even before hearing from JLARC and its findings of the FCA — and nearly 18 months before the sunset — the attorney general wants to do away with any notion of a sunset, thereby effectively ignoring what will be a useful report in analyzing the impacts of the law. This is ridiculous.
The JLARC report may indicate that third-party lawsuits provide more fraud recovery for the state. It may also indicate that third-party lawsuits and paying enormous bounty hunter fees ends up costing the state fraud recovery money and unfairly damaging the practices and reputations of health care providers. Either way, that’s information needed to make an informed decision.
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It’s simple. Let the state research the Medicaid FCA and then make an informed decision on how to proceed.
(Bieber is executive director of the Liability Reform Coalition.)