This past week the Attorney General of Texas sent out a press release that deemed agency personnel who had complained about potential conflicts of interest by the AG himself were "rogue political appointees" rather than whistleblowers because they had only reported concerns about his conduct not provided actual evidence of his misconduct.
Evidence or first-hand knowledge not needed under TMFPA
We bring this up because under the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act the OAG has long expressed the opinion that whistleblowers don't need first-hand evidence of wrongdoing to bring a qui tam action against a health care provider. We've even reported on it.
Cottage industry of questionable qui tam lawsuits
Unfortunately, this little proviso has allowed a cottage industry of questionable qui tam lawsuits to soak millions of dollars from Medicaid providers because it is cheaper for the providers to settle than pay the immense court costs of a trial to prove their innocence.
One would think that allegations brought by an employee in the government under the Texas Whistleblower Act would only have to meet that same standard.
But of course, the Texas Whistleblower Act is enforced by the Texas Attorney General and he interprets the Act as he sees fit especially when the complaints arise within his own agency. The state's top lawman has already seen fit to fire these apparent miscreants or seemingly put enough pressure on them to resign in apparent violation of this legislation which he is supposed to enforce.
AG does what Medicaid providers can't
Heaven help a Medicaid provider who did that much less send out a press release excoriating the relators.
For reference, it should be pointed out that the workplace notice for the Texas Whistleblower Act published by the Texas Attorney General does say, "The Texas Whistleblower Act protects public employees who make good faith reports of violations of law by their employer to an appropriate law enforcement authority. An employer may not suspend or terminate the employment of, or take other adverse personnel action against, a public employee who makes a report under the Act."
There is some small irony that the trials and tribulations of the Attorney General seem to mirror those trials and tribulations inflicted upon Medicaid health care providers by his agency. He doesn't appear to like it. Providers don't either and that was the reason for bill HB3802.
Providers need protection
It is a sad thing that HB3802 which unanimously passed the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence died on the floor of the House this year like so many other bills.
To be clear, we are not commenting on the merits of the allegations against Attorney General Paxton nor his actions in refuting them. Nor are we trying to vilify all whistleblowers everywhere.
Credible whistleblowers are necessary
Our previous story on the small amount of qui tam awards to Dr. Christine Ellis was meant only to show that the allegations of hundreds of millions of dollars of Medicaid fraud supposedly committed by Medicaid dentists back before 2011 did not bear fruit after a decade. Dr. Ellis is highly qualified to bring such allegations and did a public service in doing so. We do question her legal team's continued commitment to a failed narrative in search of more taxpayer dollars for themselves.
Shakedowns are not
No, we are concerned when the TMFPA is used unjustly as a lever to shakedown honest providers. That needs to be stopped.WhistleblowerPoster