Attorney General Argues for False Claims Act Legislation

In a March 11 Baltimore Sun op-ed, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh advocated for the adoption of legislation (HB 405/SB 374) that would create a Maryland version of the federal False Claims Act.  The Act allows the federal government or a person on behalf of the federal government to bring a court action against an individual for fraudulently seeking government benefits or providing services to the government.  If a person brings an action on behalf of the federal government and the government elects to intervene, pursue the action, and prevails, the person is allowed a portion of the awarded damages.

Maryland currently only has a false claims act for health care claims.  The proposed legislation would expand it to other types of fraudulent activity (excluding tax fraud). From the op-ed:

For the federal government and many states, the False Claims Act creates a firewall against fraud and incentivizes whistleblowers to speak out and report theft. …

Maryland has recouped about $60 million since adopting a False Health Claims Act in 2010. But we can do better –— preventing more fraud, and saving more taxpayer dollars. The time has come to enact a full, robust law so that Maryland, its 24 counties and Baltimore City can begin recouping millions that we know are being lost. …

While some argue that the law would encourage more lawsuits, or dampen the state’s business climate, experience around the country shows that is not the case….Red states and blue states known for business-friendly environments have false claims acts, including Texas, North Carolina, Colorado and Georgia, among others. …

Lawmakers should act quickly on this legislation, which has sponsors from both parties. This is not an issue of right versus left. It is an issue of right versus wrong.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, MACo supported the legislation as another way of recovering damages for false claims made against county governments.

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