Florida Legislature Passes Bill to Combat Medicaid Fraud

The Florida House and Senate have passed an important piece of legislation which, when signed into law by Governor Charlie Crist, will mirror the Federal False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to recover triple damages in civil lawsuits against those who commit Medicaid Fraud.
Under Federal law, all states that participate in the Medicaid program must also have a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Florida’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is operated by the Office of the Attorney General and is a joint Federal-State funded law enforcement agency. The unit, working with the Agency of Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) Bureau of Medicaid Program Integrity, investigates and seeks prosecution for criminal fraud and is empowered to “seek any civil remedy provided by law.”
This legislation will increase the recovery for Florida by 10 percent on all civil actions. In 2005, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit secured over $76 million in settlements for Florida’s consumers. Nearly the entire amount was recovered through the use of the False Claims Act.
“Those who exploit and defraud our Medicaid program steal critical health care dollars from those who desperately need these services. Once signed into law, this legislation will not only strengthen our enforcement tools but more importantly, will return millions of dollars in Medicaid resources to the elderly, the disadvantaged and others in need,” said Attorney General Bill McCollum. “I commend the Legislature for passing this important legislation which will assist our state combat Medicaid fraud and punish those who selfishly cheat the system.”