False Claims Act reaches committee against providers' wishes

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The False Claims Correction Act (H.R. 4854) Wednesday made its way to the House Judiciary Committee for deliberation and a markup.

Nursing-home and long-term care advocates are opposed to this legislation because of the perceived burdens it would place on the long-term care industry, according to a June letter sent to the House by more than 20 healthcare advocates. Overpayments from Medicare or Medicaid would be grounds for legal action under the new law. The bill also would provide legal protection and financial reward to whistleblowers in these instances. This could seriously disrupt many government programs, advocates argue, as any payment records would have to be meticulous to avoid potential lawsuits from those seeking to gain from minor oversights.

The new bill also would increase the statute of limitations on filing false claim suits from six years to 10 years and triple the amount of financial responsibility on the part of the defendant. It also could encourage government employees to file lawsuits which, could "turn every difference of opinion between managers and employers into a potential [whistleblower] action," provider advocates say.

Text of the proposed changes to the False Claims Act can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov.