Monday, January 31, 2011

Two bills would encourage, protect whistleblowers

Two proposed bills would serve to crack down on fraudulent health care claims and make it easier for employees to blow the whistle on illegal activity.

State Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London, (photo, right) has sponsored Senate Bill 11, which would increase damages and penalties against wrongdoers and prohibits retaliation against employees who assist in prosecution. It would also allow an employee who "works for a Medicaid provider or contractor to turn over evidence to prosecutors and receive a portion of the money recovered," The Lexington Herald-Leader's Beth Musgrave reports.

House Bill 4, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, (photo, left) proposes similar action, likewise protecting whistleblowers and paying "some of the proceeds of the action being distributed to the person successfully bringing the action." The consequences as proposed in Stumbo's bill would be more widespread, however. "I want to see this used not just in (Medicaid), as the Senate is proposing, but anywhere fraud with state dollars is taking place," Stumbo said.

Almost two dozen states have their own false claims acts, including Tennessee and Indiana. Attorney General Jack Conway has expressed some concerns about the proposals. (Read more)

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