Tony Munter is not a Maryland False Claims Act lawyer. He summarizes the Maryland False Claims Act statutes on this page, but he is not licensed to practice in Maryland. State Claims can often be brought as part of Federal Cases under the Federal False Claims Act.
As the title of the law implies, Maryland’s False Health Claims Act (Md. code Ann. Health-Gen. §§ 2-601 et seq.) is limited to claims regarding state health programs. The limited scope of the law stands in contrast to the Federal False Claims Act and several other state FCA laws, which create liability for a defendant that commits fraud whenever government funding is involved.
However, Maryland finally passed a broader version of a law in 2015 called the Maryland False Claims Act Maryland Code Ann. Gen. Prov. §8–101 et seq.
Now it is possible to sue both for health care fraud and or join nationwide cases of such fraud as well as sue for any other kind of fraud under one of these two laws in Maryland. Under the Maryland False Claims Act fraud committed against a county in Maryland is also actionable.
Maryland FCA Provisions
The Maryland False Claims Act and the Maryland False Health Claims Act include at least one unusual provision that does not match what we have come to expect from what is usually called qui tam law. The term qui tam, meaning “who as well,” is short for a longer Latin phrase meaning “he who will sue on behalf of himself as well as the king.” In a false claim context, lawyers tend to refer to qui tam to describe the provisions of these laws that allow individuals to sue on behalf of the government.
Maryland’s laws do allow an individual to sue on behalf of the State of Maryland. However, if the state decides not to join the action, the case is to be dismissed. Conversely, the Federal Law allows the government to join the action, but if the government declines to do so, a litigant may continue to pursue the case in court without the support of the government. This provision gives the Attorney General within the state of Maryland considerable power to control the fate of the case, even more than the government has under the federal law.
There are other whistleblower reward laws which follow this same idea. For example, the whistleblower offices created by the Dodd-Frank legislative reforms allow a whistleblower to provide information to an agency but not to maintain an action in court on behalf of the government. The whistleblower can receive a reward if, for example, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pursues the case, but they cannot sue on behalf of the SEC.
Maryland FCA Rewards and Liability
Maryland’s whistleblower rewards track with the federal law’s provisions for rewards when the government “joins” the action. The government’s decision to join the case means that it will take over prosecution. Both Maryland False Claims Acts and the federal version of the law provide for a reward of 15 to 25 percent of any recovery under those circumstances.
Since there is no opportunity to pursue the case without the state joining, there is no higher reward under the Maryland laws as there is under the Federal Law. By contrast, under the federal law, if a whistleblower pursues a case without the government’s help and prevails the individual can earn a reward of between 25 and 30 percent of the total recovery.
Liability for the defendant is similar to the federal law. There are treble—or triple—the damages and civil fines for violations of the Maryland False Health Claims Act.
Maryland FCA and Federal FCA Laws
Maryland, like the other states with False Claims Acts—and even those that have liability only for healthcare claims—is in a strong position to be rewarded by cases filed alleging a nationwide scheme. Under the federal law, such cases can be filed as one action if there is a common core of facts giving rise to the scheme.
The Maryland laws are both still relatively new, and we will continue to watch to see how many cases are filed and what kind of success they have under the Maryland False Claims Acts. Under the federal law, cases can take several years to come to fruition, and individuals in Maryland may only now be learning about and thinking of availing themselves of the rights provided by this law. Hopefully, if there is fraud committed in the State of Maryland and it impacts state health care funds, whistleblowers will understand that this law provides an option to them.