CHARLESTON – Despite its potential to save the taxpayers as much as $90 million a year, House Bill 4001, the Government Fraud Prevention Act, was rejected today by various member of the House.
“I am disappointed that this effort to reduce fraud on the government was rejected by a majority in the House of Delegates,” Speaker Tim Miley said. “Every member claims to come to Charleston with the goal of eliminating fraud and waste and to protecting taxpayer funds, yet that was not evident in the vote today.”
House Finance Chairman Brent Boggs noted that the money saved by encouraging the reporting of fraud against the government could have been spent on needs such as in-home care for seniors, road repair and assistance for volunteer fire fighters.
“By enacting a false claims statute, West Virginia also would have become eligible for 10 percent more funds recovered in instances of Medicaid fraud,” Chairman Boggs noted. “That is money sorely needed in our state.”
Currently, West Virginia receives up to about 30 percent of recovered Medicaid funds, while states that have false claims statutes approved by the federal government receive up to about 40 percent.
Delegate Clif Moore, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee and spent several hours working on the legislation, said the state is missing out on an opportunity to become more efficient.
“We are all familiar with the problems our state has experienced with corruption that ends up costing the government,” Moore said. “This legislation would have provided strong incentives for a person, whether working in or outside government, to report the occurrence of fraud. Plus, the bill would have offered whistleblowers some protection from retaliation.
“It is simply responsible public policy to encourage such reporting.”
Speaker Miley said House leadership will consider assigning the legislation to an interim committee for further study following the regular session.