Yes! Our lawyers can appear and represent whistleblowers in every state in the country.
But let’s unpack this question a little bit. First, nearly every government-funded healthcare program is at least partially funded by federal money. This includes state Medicaid and Medicaid managed care organizations (which is like the Medicaid version of Medicare Advantage). The amount of federal funding varies by state, but at least half of the program is paid for by the federal government.
Accordingly, most healthcare cases can be filed in federal court under the False Claims Act. And as we explain below, if you can file your qui tam case in federal court rather than state court, it is usually advisable to do so.
Pro Hac Vice
We can be admitted to every federal court in the country in one of two ways. First, just because Jason and Julie live in Georgia does not mean they cannot be admitted to practice in other districts. For example, they are permanently admitted to practice in federal courts in Colorado, Michigan, and Tennessee.
Other courts only let local attorneys become permanent members, but they can grant special admission to out-of-state lawyers to enter an appearance on a case-by-case basis. This is called making an appearance pro hac vice, and we do it routinely throughout the country.
In these instances where we appear in courts outside of Georgia, we usually bring on an additional law firm to act as local counsel. These are attorneys that more regularly practice in the geographic area and so have better knowledge of the judges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the local rules that we will be operating under.
When we decide to incorporate local counsel, it is no charge to our clients; they share in our fee.
So, our clients benefit from the False Claims Act expertise of our firm as well as the additional experience and manpower of our local counsel, who may themselves be practitioners of qui tam or employment law.
Similarly, we regularly act as local counsel for firms that come to Georgia to litigate their False Claims Act cases. Our knowledge of and relationships with local U.S. Attorney’s Offices are valuable to out-of-state law firms who may not be familiar with our local customs.
State Medicaid False Claims Acts
In addition to the federal False Claims Act, some states have their own Medicaid False Claims Acts. Although these statutes permit you to file the case in state court, this is rarely the best decision.
For one thing, federal courts have far more experience with the False Claims Act than do state court judges, and the law is more established in federal courts.
For another, as we explain in our FAQ on how whistleblowers are paid for bringing successful Medicaid fraud cases, you have to file a claim under the federal statute to get paid for the recovery of the federal portion, and you have to file a second claim under the state statute to get paid for the recovery of the state portion.
In federal court, you can file both the federal claim and the state claim. Not only are you ensuring twice the resources – the federal U.S. Attorney’s Office and the state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit – but you also are then eligible for the largest possible relator’s share.
Non-Medicaid State Healthcare Fraud
Although we tend to think of government healthcare fraud as being fraud against the Medicare and Medicaid programs, other types of healthcare fraud may be solely from state funding, such as certain public health grants.
If none of the funding comes from the federal government or the Medicaid program, then the state must have a more general False Claims Act that encompasses non-Medicaid fraud.
Georgia, for example, has a second state False Claims Act to address fraud, waste, and abuse of all state and local funds besides Medicaid. These statutes tend to go well beyond healthcare fraud, including funds meant for education, transportation, infrastructure, and other state-funded projects.
To file a lawsuit under one of these statutes without any federal False Claims Act tie-in, you have to file the lawsuit in state court, usually in a county where at least one defendant resides, transacts business, or commits the fraud.
False Claims Act cases are so rarely brought in state court that it is likely the assigned judge will have no experience with the statute. That is why it’s vital to have experienced whistleblower counsel that can educate the court on the issues.
Bracker & Marcus LLC – Representing Healthcare Fraud Whistleblowers Everywhere
Whether you are in the contiguous 48 states, Hawaii, Alaska, or even Guam or Puerto Rico, we can handle your federal or state healthcare fraud case for you.
For more information, contact a healthcare fraud attorney at Bracker & Marcus LLC today.