Monday, July 21, 2008

Medicaid False Claims Act Amendment Stalls ....

Posted On: July 19, 2008 by David L. Haron
Michigan Medicaid False Claims Act Amendment Stalls Because of Petty Legislative Political Bickering

As I reported earlier, the Michigan Medicaid False Claims Act was amended effective January 1, 2006 through the efforts of Attorney General Mike Cox and Representative David Law (R., Commerce). I worked actively for passage of the amendment and testified before the Michigan House of Representative Judiciary committee, then chaired by Rep. Law..

The State of Michigan can recoup extra funds from combined state/federal recoveries because of the provisions of the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 ('DRA"). To explain, shortly after the the Michigan Medicaid False Claims Act amendment passed the Michigan Legislature and Governor Granholm signed the Act, the U.S. Congress passed the DRA providing for a 10% incentive to States which enacted a "compliant" Qui Tam statute addressing Medicaid fraud. Specifically, the Medicaid program is a joint federal/state program. Thus, in Michigan, the federal government pays about 56% and the state 44% of the costs of the Medicaid program and fraud recoveries are divided on the same percentage.

If the state has a "compliant" Qui Tam statute, the state receives an extra 10% of the recovery--that is, 54% in Michigan--of the recovery--instead of 44%--a significant amount of money since most recoveries are in the tens of millions of dollars or more!!

However, on December 21, 2006, the U.S, Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Inspector General ("HHS/OIG") advised the state, by letter, that its Medicaid False Claims Act was NOT "DRA compliant" (that is, a mirror image of the federal False Claims Act).

In order to comply, all that was needed was a simple bill adding civil monetary penalties of at least $5000 for each violation and making one other technical amendment. Since the revisions would not have had any negative fiscal impact on the state and would have had a potentially tremendous positive impact in the event of any recovery, one would have expected Representative Law to quickly introduce a clarification/modification bill and obtain quick passage--after all, the State would most certainly not turn down the opportunity to reverse the flow of funds from Michigan to Washington??

Unfortunately, in 2006 and 2007, petty partisan bickering was rampant in the Michigan Legislature--we were paralyzed by the absurd budget fight and leadership was non-existent.

Rep. Law, finally, on September 17, 2007, introduced a one-page bill. The date of introduction is significant. In addition to being a Saturday, the day of the Notre Dame-UM football game (a game, I suspect, Rep. Law, a Notre Dame grad, was attending), it was three days before Ray Sayeh, then a WXYZ-TV investigative reporter, had scheduled (at my request) an interview with the representative to discuss the failure to take action on the revisions.

Unfortunately, again because of partisanship and Democratic control of the House of Representatives, the bill went nowhere while the Attorney General continued to obtain recoveries from fraud-feasors and the unclaimed 10% incentive was lost to Washington.

Finally, on February 19, 2008, Representative Marc Courveau (D., Northville) introduced HB 5757. The amended FCA, as presented in HB 5757, would allow the Michigan FCA to become DRA compliant. Once again, the small changes made by HB 5757, as required by the federal HHS/OIG., would cost the state nothing in administrative or other costs and would bring millions of dollars in the future back from Washington.

HB 5757 quickly passed the House with NO opposition and was sent to the Senate.

Tragically, because of continued political maneuvering, the Bill sits in the Judiciary Committee.

It seems that Rep. Courveau was elected at the expense of a Republican and the leadership of the Judiciary Committee and Senate Majority Leader, Mike Bishop will not allow this largely unopposed, fiscally responsible bill, to be brought up at the committee or floor level because it would give "points" to Rep. Courveau!!!!

The State of Michigan is in a deep recession/depression, unemployment sits at 8.5%, the highest in the nation, GM is in deep trouble, the City of Detroit is selling assets and landmarks--such at the Detroit-Windsor tunnel--and the Legislature cannot pass a one-page bill that will bring money to the state and its Medicaid recipients.

This Bill is under the radar, unfortunately--Ray (now Rez) Sayeh has joined CNN International and is posted in Pakistan, columnists such as Brian Dickerson and others have been unresponsive despite my entreaties, my solicitations to the Legislature and the use of my contacts have been unavailing.

I am frustrated. Medicaid fraud is rampant, the Attorney General is acting diligently in pursuing the cheaters, and we have been filing qui tam cases under the new Act, but even if all of these activities are successful--and they will be--the State will not receive the full benefit of its recoveries!!!

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