Tony Munter summarizes the New Mexico False Claims Acts below. He does not practice in the jurisdiction of New Mexico. The summaries of other states can be found in our state-by-state guide.
New Mexico confronts the problems of Medicaid fraud and general fraud committed against the state government primarily through two laws: the New Mexico Medicaid False Claims Act (N.M. Stat. Ann. §§27-14-1 et seq.) and the New Mexico Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (N.M. Stat. Ann. §§44-9-1 et seq.). The Medicaid False Claims Act was enacted prior to the more general Fraud Against Taxpayers Act—apparently, someone realized that they could collect money for the state involving claims beyond their Medicaid program, so New Mexico enacted the second law.
These False Claims Act laws provide important rights to citizens of New Mexico, and both have anti-retaliation provision and allow for a relator’s share equivalent to what the federal law permits—that is, 15 to 25 percent in cases when the government intervenes, and 25 to 30 percent when the plaintiff-relator continues on with the case without the support of the government and prevails. They are, therefore, both true qui tam laws in that the individual has the right to bring and maintain a cause of action in court.
The New Mexico Fraud Against Taxpayers Act includes civil fines, while for some reason the more limited Medicaid False Claims Act does not. Through these laws, virtually all the kinds of fraud for which defendants can be found liable under the Federal False Claims Act will also apply if the Defendants defraud New Mexico.
In addition, the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act provides for liability if so-called “political subdivisions” are the subject of the fraud, thereby expanding the potential kinds of cases, which can be filed in the State. New Mexico state claims can be pled as part of a consolidated action if they are part of the same nationwide scheme and qualify under the Federal law. However, the New Mexico Fraud Against Taxpayers Act gives individuals the ability to file cases, which specifically implicate state and local governments and their funds.
Of course, fraud committed by companies based in or doing business in the State of New Mexico against the Federal Government are also subject to the Federal False Claims Act. This is crucial because New Mexico is one of the highest per capita recipients of federal funding of any state in the country. There are federal funds provided as a result of the air force bases and national laboratories, which generate much of the state’s economic activity, in addition to all the usual federal government programs which support a state.
As for state enforcement of New Mexico false claims act cases, the current Attorney General’s Office website says the right thing about supporting whistleblowers, including that the Civil Division is “…particularly active in pursuing recovery for New Mexico taxpayers, and works confidentially with whistleblowers who identify fraud and false claims which deplete the public treasury.” That’s the kind of language whistleblowers like to see out of an Attorney General’s office.
The Fraud Against Taxpayers Act is still relatively young, so it may be some time before there is a large collection of New Mexico False Claims Act cases unique to this state. However, we will be watching to see if there is one to report.