Puerto Rico Passes its Brand New False Claims Act

Thanks to Robert Patten of Taxpayers Against Fraud for letting the legal community know that today is a good day to say Si Say Puede!

Por que…

Puerto Rico just passed its own brand new False Claims Act.

Read the full press release here.

I note that while the old activists’ and dare I say liberal slogan fits this instance, one can be a staunch conservative and join the cheer. Fighting fraud and making sure the taxpayers get what they pay for is a conservative value. Indeed, the modern federal law was re-born under President Ronald Reagan’s administration championed by no less a conservative than Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. That history is likely to be revisited next week during festivities marking National Whistleblowers Day (July 30).

The qui tam provisions of this legislation take effect in 180 days from enactment. Those are the real fraud fighting parts of the law that allow a person to sue on behalf of the Government of Puerto Rico and obtain a share of any award obtained as a result. The Law includes liability for false claims made against the Government and any government agency, it is not limited to medical care. The law also includes provisions to a Medicaid enforcement unit.

Hopefully, as goes Puerto Rico so will go Pennsylvania and Ohio, two large states that seemingly forever have been thinking about enacting a law, but have not yet done so. Wisconsin, had a False Claims Act law and dropped it, what a mistake. Really any state that does not have such a law should now look to Puerto Rico.

We are always happy to see any State, territory, or even a municipality, enact a law like this. One that creates real incentives for whistleblowers to come forward and fight fraud. The reward provisions seem to mirror the Federal Law providing 15-25% to the Relator who files an action, which Puerto Rico pursues and 25-30% when the Relator prosecutes the case without the support of the Government.

In the case of a nationwide fraud scheme it would be possible to add Puerto Rico to any claim for fraud committed under the Federal Law, which gives jurisdiction to a Federal Court to file a consolidated action, just as we can do for claims regarding other states with similar provisions. Puerto Rican’s now have the best tool anyone has yet devised to fight fraud in their midst, a law with strong provisions providing incentives for people to be whistleblowers.

You say you want to fight fraud? You want the people who commit fraud to get caught and have to pay? The Government of Puerto Rico now understands that in order to do so, you need to provide real incentives to the only people who can really help—Whistleblowers.

Thanks again to TAF and, of course, to the Government of Puerto Rico. Attached is the press release announcing this law.