On April 14, the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence held a public hearing and a few days later voted on CSHB 3082, a bill brought forward by House Representative Matt Krause. The purpose of HB 3082 is to amend the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act so that qui tam suits from relators that have no personal knowledge of the facts underlying their lawsuit alleging Medicaid fraud against a provider will no longer be accepted. Rep. Krause is very well respected, in his fifth term at the Legislature and also Chairman of the House General Investigating Committee.
Protect Medicaid providers from fake whistleblowers
In presenting the bill to the Committee, Rep. Krause stated, “Basically, what 3082 will do is ensure that the whistleblower actually has knowledge of the facts that they are blowing the whistle on. We have seen in the past that you’ve got these whistleblower suits and come to find out that the person doesn’t even have personal knowledge of the facts underlying it but it opens up for a fishing expedition by attorneys to see if there was any fraud at any time…[we need to] protect those victims of the false whistleblowing …”
The Committee heard testimony from several individuals, including Austin administrative attorney Jason Ray and Raymond Winter, Assistant Attorney General, Chief of Civil Medicaid Fraud Division.
OAG testimony didn’t oppose bill
The OAG did not oppose the bill but asked for minor changes in its wording so that the passage of the bill would not change the amount of money eligible to be collected by the state from cases of fraud.
Committee members outraged
After the testimony, Rep. Mike Schofield commented, “Not just in qui tam suits but this is the cost of frivolous lawsuits to Texans. Too often the legal profession as long as lawyers make money everything is okay — that suing people is a business model instead an avenue to seek justice. You see here first hand the devastation that is brought on the innocent victims who are sued by people looking to make money. My question isn’t just about the relator, what do we do to the lawyer? This kind of nonsense has to stop. This is not 1950 anymore where if you sue somebody you grab a file and go to court. Even defending yourself isn’t that expensive. Defending yourself [today] from a frivolous suit can wipe out a family, can wipe out a company…”
Bill passed out of committee unanimously
On April 16, the Committee met and voted to pass the bill unanimously.
It now goes to the next stage of the legislative process.
Not a done deal by a long ways but great news for all Medicaid providers
TDMR has published numerous stories about the need to update the TMFPA and the disastrous effects it has had on dental practices that have become involved with unscrupulous lawsuits such as those brought by Joshua Lafountain.
We hope the Legislature sees the wisdom of HB 3082 and passes it onto Governor Abbott, who will grace it with his signature and sign it into law.
This is still a long road.