The Oklahoma False Claims Act

It was my pleasure to interview Wayne Allison, a distinguished False Claims Act attorney who works in Oklahoma.  We hope readers will have an opportunity to avail themselves of Wayne’s deep insight into this area of practice.  Like many who have chosen this area of practice, Wayne came to working on false claims cases relatively later in his professional career. As a result, he brings a wealth of perspective to his work and to his understanding of whistleblower law.

Tony: I wanted to ask you about the Federal versus the Oklahoma False Claims Act, filing in Oklahoma and how you got involved in this kind of litigation. The first obvious difference between the Federal and the State of Oklahoma’s False Claims Act is that the Oklahoma False Claims Act is limited to healthcare. Do I have that right?
Wayne: That’s right. The Oklahoma False Claims Act is Title 63 §§5053 and following. It was enacted in 2007 and was targeted at Medicaid specifically and only Medicaid fraud and abuse. Interestingly, the term abuse is defined as “without medical necessity or gross overutilization. “The structure of the statute is a little quirky, because the definition of a violation includes abuse of the system, as well as making a false claim, similar to the Federal False Claims Act. Also similar to the Federal False Claims Act is the conceptual definition of “knowingly,” meaning it’s actual, it’s deliberate ignorance, or it’s reckless disregard. The Oklahoma False Claims Act excludes false claims submitted to or in connection with the Oklahoma Tax Code just like the Federal False Claims Act excludes IRS-related false claims. Oklahoma excludes state tax false claims.
Tony: There is an IRS whistleblower program of course for federal tax, which is a separate matter. For example, there is no right for an individual to bring a case in court under that one. You just report to the IRS. So, there’s no separate law for Oklahoma State tax issues at this time or we don’t know?
Wayne: I don’t know of any law on the books. I’ve heard it discussed, but I’ve never seen such a law and I don’t recall seeing it popping up in this legislative session, which ended just a few weeks ago.
Tony: How did you start to practice False Claims Act cases in Oklahoma? I think people would normally associate going after false claims in D.C., or maybe New York. It’s a relatively new State law in Oklahoma. What first attracted you to False Claims Act practice?
Wayne: Well, I learned the False Claims Act actually from working in healthcare for going on a couple of decades and actually working on the operational side of healthcare and learning to build operations that are compliant. Basically, we’re not doing defense, but operations that are necessarily required to be cognizant of and compliant with the False Claims Act and of other regulatory schemes. So, I learned it on that side and becoming a lawyer later in life, I applied that knowledge. The best place to apply it and certainly the most intellectually challenging is the plaintiff side of False Claims Act cases.

Here is Part 2 of the interview, in which Tony Munter and Wayne Allison discussing healthcare fraud in Oklahoma and how the state and federal statutes work in healthcare fraud false claims actions.