In early June, two Pennsylvania State legislators introduced House Bill 1493, a state version of the federal False Claims Act. The bill would reportedly provide the state with a crucial tool in fighting healthcare waste, fraud, and abuse.
“Pennsylvanians lose as much as $200 million a year through Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse,” said Democratic State Rep. Brandon Neuman in a press release introducing the bill. “Our Pennsylvania False Claims Act legislation… would go a long way toward deterring this dishonesty.” The proposed bill would allow the Pennsylvania attorney general or a whistleblower to file a civil suit against those committing fraud against the Commonwealth while holding violators liable for triple the damages sustained by the state. It would also aim to protect whistleblowers who suffered harassment, career consequences, or discrimination for lawfully pursuing a false claims case.
According to Neuman, this bill would provide the essential tools for the commonwealth to recover the “maximum amount possible from those who cheat or attempt to cheat the government.” He claims that this bill would serve the dual purpose of providing a new source of revenue while punishing and preventing those who attempt to steal taxpayer dollars.
Neuman, along with fellow Democratic legislator Tony DeLuca, of Allegheny County, introduced the bill in the wake of Johnson & Johnson’s multibillion dollar settlement for the off-label marketing of its drug antipsychotic drug, Risperdal.
More than half of the states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia have already implemented false claims acts. Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania Attorney General, is said to be in support of the proposal.