Tony Munter summarizes the Connecticut False Claims Act below. He is not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction of Connecticut.
False Claims in Connecticut
Connecticut is a relatively recent adopter of False Claims Act legislation. The Connecticut False Claims Act For Medical Assistance Programs (Conn. Gen. Stat. §§301 et seq.) was only enacted in 2009, and it is limited in terms of the kinds of cases create liability for Defendants.
As the name implies, only cases involving false claims made against a Connecticut “medical assistance program” are properly the subject of this law. However, since the vast majority of False Claims Cases do involve healthcare, this is an important advancement for Connecticut whistleblower law, as such claims often arise as a result of a joint federal and state action involving both Medicare and Medicaid funds.
Strength of the CT FCA
The Connecticut False Claims Act follows the Federal False Claims Act in most important respects. Specifically, the Connecticut Law creates liability for presenting false claims, for creating false records to obtain payment, and for conspiracy to violate the act. It provides similar liability as the federal law by imposing treble damages on defendants who violate the act. In addition, the law also imposes civil fines of $5,500 to $11,000 per violation.
Most importantly, the law creates incentives for whistleblowers to report fraud and creates legal rights for whistleblowers to sue for retaliation. Individuals who sue under this law can obtain between 15 and 30 percent of whatever the government recovers as a result of the action filed. In a case pursued by the Connecticut Attorney General, the whistleblower may receive between 15 and 25 percent of the total recovery.
Pursuing Qui Tam Actions
As the potential for a higher reward when the plaintiff pursues the case on their own makes clear, the Connecticut False Claims Act is what is considered a true piece of qui tam legislation. That is because individuals have a right to file their case and also to maintain the action even if the government declines to pursue the case. In the event that the whistleblower pursues their case successfully without the support of the State Attorney General, the reward increases similarly to the Federal Law, up to 25 to 30 percent of the total recovery.
Other important provisions, including the right to sue for “reverse false claims” (when the defendant wrongfully keeps money or property owed to the government), have been brought into line with the Federal Law as well. In a healthcare context, where fraud often involves funds kept by facilities when they know they should be returning the funds, a reverse false claims provision can be a very valuable tool to recover lost funds.
Possible Future Developments for Connecticut False Claims Act Cases
In terms of versatility, there is certainly room for the Connecticut FCA to grow. Fraud against the government, even at the state level, is not limited solely to healthcare programs, so it is worth keeping an eye on this piece of legislation to see if Connecticut lawmakers ever agree to expand the law. Since the Connecticut False Claims Act is a relatively recent law, we will be watching to see if there are any major recoveries and if the law receives support from within the State.