Many prospective whistleblowers start out by researching the law on their own. Many often have questions over which false claim act governs their situation. The federal government and several states have false claims acts. While many state laws are nearly identical to the federal law, and contain analogous procedural requirements, causes of action, damages, and whistleblower protections, some do vary from the federal FCA.
The proper law to file under is determined by the government that was defrauded. If the federal government was defrauded, then the whistleblower must proceed under the federal FCA. If a state government was defrauded, the whistleblower will need to file under the false claims act of that state.
Actions may invoke multiple laws. For example, Medicaid is made up of both federal and state funds. Therefore, a Medicaid whistleblower would likely file under both the federal and state acts, naming both governments as plaintiffs. Furthermore, fraud may span multiple states, in which case a whistleblower may name multiple governments and invoke multiple acts in their complaint.
While most states have some kind of false claims act, not all have qui tam provisions, authorizing whistleblowers to file suit on the government’s behalf. Furthermore, some state laws are limited to specific types of fraud, such as Medicaid fraud. See, e.g., The Tennessee Medicaid False Claims Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 71-5-181, et seq.
To encourage enforcement and uniformity, the federal government offers states an additional 10 percent share of any joint recovery if their laws contain qui tam provisions and damages similar to the FCA. The federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) has approved 21 state laws as compliant. These states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.