Wisconsin Repeals State False Claims Act
On July 12, 2015, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed into law the budget passed by the state legislature the previous week. The budget included a short rider that repeals Wisconsin’s 2007 False Claims for Medical Assistance Act, Wis. Stat. s. 20.931—the state’s version of the federal False Claims Act (FCA). Prior to its repeal, the law allowed relators to claim up to 30 percent of awards, and provided whistleblower protections and triple damages similar to the FCA.
No hearings or public discussions regarding the repeal took place, and the lawmakers who introduced the bill gave no explanation. The Wisconsin attorney general did not take a position on the law’s repeal, but a spokeswoman from his office stated that repeal of the law “will not have much impact—if any—given that there are numerous laws that allow the state to prosecute Medicaid fraud.” However, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the repeal will save Wisconsin the cost of investigating between 60 and 70 qui tam actions a year, of which it only intervened in a “small minority.”
Wisconsin’s repeal is interesting in that it bucks the trend of states passing their own versions of the federal FCA. We will continue to watch developments, if any, relating to this repeal.