Iowa

Iowa Medicaid False Claims Act

Whistleblowers with knowledge of fraud on Iowa medical assistance funds may bring suit on the state’s behalf and share in the recovery, under the Iowa Medicaid False Claims Act which was first enacted in 2010. Under Iowa Code 685.2(1) of the Act, an individual may face civil liability for knowingly presenting or causing to be presented a false or fraudulent claim, conspiring to do so, or engaging in other fraudulent activity specified by law.

The Iowa Medicaid False Claims Act is modeled on the federal False Claims Act, and cases brought under one statute are often brought in conjunction with claims under the other.  However, unlike the federal law which applies to all false claims made to the federal government, the state law only applies to false claims relating to the state’s medical assistance programs.  Violation of the Iowa Medicaid False Claims Act exposes an individual for civil penalties up to three times the total damages to the state. Further, the Act imposes civil penalties ranging between $5,000 – $10,000 for each individual false claim in violation of the Act.

A private individual with direct knowledge of a Iowa Medicaid False Claims Act violation is authorized to file a suit under the Act’s qui tam provisions. The qui tam relator, often referred to as a “whistleblower,” may proceed with the action regardless of whether the government chooses to intervene.

Whistleblowers involved in successful judgments or settlements may receive up to 25 percent of the civil penalties recovered by the state government. If the state government has chosen not to intervene, the whistleblower may receive up to 30 percent of the available recovery. Further, the Act provides the whistleblower with protection against employer retaliation, offering reinstatement, double back pay with interest, and compensation for any special damages including attorneys’ fees if the employee lawfully acted in furtherance of an action under the Iowa Medicaid False Claims Act, including efforts to stop the violation..

Persons with information about fraud on the state of Iowa are urged to preserve their rights by consulting an attorney and filing a case as soon as possible. A disclosure to the Iowa state government pursuant to Iowa Code § 685.3(5)(c) may preserve a person’s rights as an original source of the information about fraud.

As of August 2013, the text of the state FCA statute below is believed to be a complete, current version of the statute currently in force. Nonetheless, attorneys and qui tam relators should rely on the most up to date version of the state’s laws.

Iowa False Claims Act

Iowa Code s. 685.3(5)(c)

685.1 Definitions.

1. “Claim” means any request or demand, whether pursuant to a contract or otherwise, for money or property and whether the state has title to the money or property, which is presented to an officer, employee, agent, or other representative of the state or to a contractor, grantee, or other person if the money or property is to be spent or used on the state’s behalf or to advance a state program or interest, and if the state provides any portion of the money or property which is requested or demanded, or if the state will reimburse directly or indirectly such contractor, grantee, or other person for any portion of the money or property which is requested or demanded. “Claim” does not include any requests or demands for money or property that the state has paid to an individual as compensation for state employment or as an income subsidy with no restrictions on that individual’s use of the money or property.

2. “Custodian” means the custodian, or any deputy custodian, designated by the attorney general under section 685.6.

3. “Documentary material” includes the original or any copy of any book, record, report, memorandum, paper, communication, tabulation, chart, or other document, or data compilations stored in or accessible through computer or other information retrieval systems, together with instructions and all other materials necessary to use or interpret such data compilations, and any product of discovery.

4. “False claims law” means this chapter.

5. “False claims law investigation” means any inquiry conducted by a false claims law investigator for the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is or has been engaged in any violation of a false claims law.

6. “False claims law investigator” means any attorney or investigator employed by the department of justice  who is charged with the duty of enforcing or carrying into effect any false claims law, or any officer or employee of the state acting under the direction and supervision of such attorney or investigator in connection with a false claims law investigation.

7. a.“Knowing” or “knowingly” means that a person with respect to information, does any of the following:

(1) Has actual knowledge of the information.

(2) Acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information.

(3) Acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information.

b.“Knowing” or “knowingly” does not require proof of specific intent to defraud.

8. “Material” means having a natural tendency to influence, or be capable of influencing, the payment or receipt of money or property.

9. “Obligation” means an established duty, whether or not fixed, arising from an express or implied contractual, grantor-grantee, or licensor-licensee relationship, from a fee-based or similar relationship, from statute or regulation, or from the retention of any overpayment.

10. “Official use” means any use that is consistent with the law, and the regulations and policies of the department of justice, including use, in connection with internal department of justice memoranda and reports; communications between the department of justice and a federal, state, or local government agency or a contractor of a federal, state, or local government agency, undertaken in furtherance of a department of justice investigation or prosecution of a case; interviews of any qui tam plaintiff or other witness; oral examinations; depositions; preparation for and response to civil discovery requests; introduction into the record of a case or proceeding; applications, motions, memoranda and briefs submitted to a court or other tribunal; and communications with government investigators, auditors, consultants and experts, the counsel of other parties, and arbitrators and mediators, concerning an investigation, case, or proceeding.

11. “Original source” means an individual who has direct and independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations are based and has voluntarily provided the information to the state before filing an action under section 685.3 which is based on the information.

12. “Person” means any natural person, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, including any state or political subdivision of the state.

13. “Product of discovery” includes all of the following:

a. The original or duplicate of any deposition, interrogatory, document, thing, result of the inspection of land or other property, examination, or admission, which is obtained by any method of discovery in any judicial or administrative proceeding of an adversarial nature.

b. Any digest, analysis, selection, compilation, or derivation of any item listed in paragraph “a”.

c. Any index or other manner of access to any item listed in paragraph “a”.

14. “Qui tam plaintiff” means a private plaintiff who brings an action under this chapter on behalf of the state.

685.2 Acts subjecting person to treble damages, costs, and civil penalties — exceptions.

1. A person who commits any of the following acts is liable to the state for a civil penalty of not less than five thousand dollars and not more than ten thousand dollars, plus three times the amount of damages which the state sustains because of the act of that person:

a. Knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval.

b. Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim.

c. Conspires to commit a violation of paragraph “a”“b”“d”“e”“f”, or “g”.

d. Has possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the state and knowingly delivers, or causes to be delivered, less than all of that money or property.

e. Is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the state and, intending to defraud the state, makes or delivers the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true.

f. Knowingly buys, or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the state, or a member of the Iowa national guard, who lawfully may not sell or pledge property.

g. Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the state, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the state.

2. Notwithstanding subsection 1, the court may assess not less than two times the amount of damages which the state sustains because of the act of the person described in subsection 1, if the court finds all of the following:

a. The person committing the violation furnished officials of the state responsible for investigating false claims violations with all information known to such person about the violation within thirty days after the date on which the person first obtained the information.

b. The person fully cooperated with the state investigation of such violation.

c. At the time the person furnished the state with the information about the violation, a criminal prosecution, civil action, or administrative action had not commenced under this chapter with respect to such violation, and the person did not have actual knowledge of the existence of an investigation into such violation.

3. A person violating this section shall also be liable to the state for the costs of a civil action brought to recover any such penalty or damages.

4. Any information furnished pursuant to subsection 2 is deemed confidential information exempt from disclosure pursuant to chapter 22.

5. This section shall not apply to claims, records, or statements made under Tit. X relating to state revenue and taxation.

685.3 Investigations and prosecutions — powers of prosecuting authority — civil actions by individuals as qui tam plaintiffs and as private citizens — jurisdiction of courts.

1. The attorney general shall diligently investigate a violation under section 685.2.  If the attorney general finds that a person has violated or is violating section 685.2, the attorney general may bring a civil action under this section against that person.

2. a. A person may bring a civil action for a violation of this chapter for the person and for the state, in the name of the state.  The person bringing the action shall be referred to as the qui tam plaintiff.  Once filed, the action may be dismissed only if the court and the attorney general provide written consent to the dismissal and the reasons for such consent.

b. A copy of the complaint and written disclosure of substantially all material evidence and information the person possesses shall be served on the attorney general pursuant to the Iowa rules of civil procedure.  The complaint shall also be filed in camera, shall remain under seal for at least sixty days, and shall not be served on the defendant until the court so orders.  The state may elect to intervene and proceed with the action within sixty days after the state receives both the complaint and the material evidence and the information.

c. The state may, for good cause shown, move the court for extensions of the time during which the complaint remains under seal under paragraph “b”.  Any such motions may be supported by affidavits or other submissions in camera.  The defendant shall not be required to respond to any complaint filed under this section until twenty days after the complaint is unsealed and served upon the defendant pursuant to rule 1.302 of the Iowa rules of civil procedure.

d. Before the expiration of the sixty-day period or any extensions obtained under paragraph “c”, the state shall do one of the following:

(1) Proceed with the action, in which case the action shall be conducted by the state.

(2) Notify the court that the state declines to take over the action, in which case the qui tam plaintiff shall have the right to conduct the action.

e. When a person brings an action under this section, no person other than the state may intervene or bring a related action based on the facts underlying the pending action.

3. a. If the state proceeds with the action, the state shall have the primary responsibility for prosecuting the action, and shall not be bound by an act of the qui tam plaintiff. Such qui tam plaintiff shall have the right to continue as a party to the action, subject to the limitations specified in paragraph “b”.

b. (1) The state may move to dismiss the action, notwithstanding the objections of the qui tam plaintiff if the qui tam plaintiff has been notified by the state of the filing of the motion and the court has provided the qui tam plaintiff with an opportunity for a hearing on the motion.

(2) The state may settle the action with the defendant notwithstanding the objections of the qui tam plaintiff if the court determines, after a hearing, that the proposed settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable under all of the circumstances. Upon a showing of good cause, such hearing may be held in camera.

(3) Upon a showing by the state that unrestricted participation during the course of the litigation by the qui tam plaintiff would interfere with or unduly delay the state’s prosecution of the case, or would be repetitious, irrelevant, or for purposes of harassment, the court may, in its discretion, impose limitations on the qui tam plaintiff’s participation, including but not limited to any of the following:

(a) Limiting the number of witnesses the qui tam plaintiff may call.

(b) Limiting the length of the testimony of such witnesses.

(c) Limiting the qui tam plaintiff’s cross-examination of witnesses.

(d) Otherwise limiting the participation by the qui tam plaintiff in the litigation.

(4) Upon a showing by the defendant that unrestricted participation during the course of the litigation by the qui tam plaintiff would be for purposes of harassment or would cause the defendant undue burden or unnecessary expense, the court may limit the participation by the qui tam plaintiff in the litigation.

c. If the state elects not to proceed with the action, the qui tam plaintiff shall have the right to conduct the action.  If the state so requests, the state shall be served with copies of all pleadings filed in the action and shall be supplied with copies of all deposition transcripts at the state’s expense. When a qui tam plaintiff proceeds with the action, the court, without limiting the status and rights of the qui tam plaintiff, may permit the state to intervene at a later date upon a showing of good cause.

d. Whether or not the state proceeds with the action, upon a showing by the state that certain actions of discovery by the qui tam plaintiff would interfere with the state’s investigation or prosecution of a criminal or civil matter arising out of the same facts, the court may stay such discovery for a period of not more than sixty days. Such a showing shall be conducted in camera.  The court may extend the sixty-day period upon a further showing in camera that the state has pursued the criminal or civil investigation or proceedings with reasonable diligence and any proposed discovery in the civil action will interfere with the ongoing criminal or civil investigation or proceedings.

e. Notwithstanding subsection 2, the state may elect to pursue the state’s claim through any alternate remedy available to the state, including any administrative proceeding to determine a civil penalty.  If any such alternate remedy is pursued in another proceeding, the qui tam plaintiff shall have the same rights in such proceeding as such qui tam plaintiff would have had if the action had continued under this section.  Any finding of fact or conclusion of law made in such other proceeding that has become final, shall be conclusive as to all such parties to an action under this section.  For purposes of this paragraph, a finding or conclusion is final if it has been finally determined on appeal to the appropriate court of the state, if all time for filing such an appeal with respect to the finding or conclusion has expired, or if the finding or conclusion is not subject to judicial review.

4. a. (1) If the state proceeds with an action brought by a qui tam plaintiff under subsection 2, the qui tam plaintiff shall, subject to subparagraph (2), receive at least fifteen percent but not more than twenty-five percent of the proceeds of the action or settlement of the claim, depending upon the extent to which the qui tam plaintiff substantially contributed to the prosecution of the action.

(2) If the action is one which the court finds to be based primarily on disclosures of specific information, other than information provided by the qui tam plaintiff, relating to allegations or transactions in a criminal, civil, or administrative hearing, or in a legislative, administrative or state auditor report, hearing, audit, or investigation, or from the news media, the court may award an amount the court considers appropriate, but in no case more than ten percent of the proceeds, taking into account the significance of the information and the role of the qui tam plaintiff in advancing the case to litigation.

(3) Any payment to a qui tam plaintiff under subparagraph (1) or (2) shall be made from the proceeds.  Any such qui tam plaintiff shall also receive an amount for reasonable expenses which the appropriate court finds to have been necessarily incurred, plus reasonable attorney fees and costs.  All such expenses, fees, and costs shall be awarded against the defendant.

b. If the state does not proceed with an action under this section, the qui tam plaintiff or person settling the claim shall receive an amount which the court decides is reasonable for collecting the civil penalty and damages.  The amount shall be not less than twenty-five percent and not more than thirty percent of the proceeds of the action or settlement and shall be paid out of such proceeds.  Such qui tam plaintiff or person shall also receive an amount for reasonable expenses which the court finds to have been necessarily incurred, plus reasonable attorney fees and costs.  All such expenses, fees, and costs shall be awarded against the defendant.

c. Whether or not the state proceeds with the action, if the court finds that the action was brought by a qui tam plaintiff who planned and initiated the violation of section 685.2 upon which the action was brought, the court may, to the extent the court considers appropriate, reduce the share of the proceeds of the action which the qui tam plaintiff would otherwise receive under paragraph “a” or “b”, taking into account the role of that qui tam plaintiff in advancing the case to litigation and any relevant circumstances pertaining to the violation.  If the qui tam plaintiff is convicted of criminal conduct arising from the qui tam plaintiff’s role in the violation of section 685.2, the qui tam plaintiff shall be dismissed from the civil action and shall not receive any share of the proceeds of the action.  Such dismissal shall not prejudice the right of the state to continue the action represented by the attorney general.

d. If the state does not proceed with the action and the qui tam plaintiff conducts the action, the court may award to the defendant reasonable attorney fees and expenses if the defendant prevails in the action and the court finds that the claim of the qui tam plaintiff was clearly frivolous, clearly vexatious, or brought primarily for purposes of harassment.

5. a. A court shall not have jurisdiction over an action brought by a former or present member of the Iowa national guard under this chapter against a member of the Iowa national guard arising out of such person’s services in the Iowa national guard.

b. A qui tam plaintiff shall not bring an action under subsection 2 which is based upon allegations or transactions which are the subject of a civil suit or an administrative civil penalty proceeding in which the state is already a party.

c. A court shall not have jurisdiction over an action under this section based upon the public disclosure of allegations or transactions in a criminal, civil, or administrative hearing, or in a legislative, administrative, or state auditor report, hearing, audit, or investigation, or from the news media, unless the action is brought by the attorney general or the qui tam plaintiff is an original source of the information.

d. The state is not liable for expenses which a person incurs in bringing an action under this section.

6. Any employee, contractor, or agent who is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment because of lawful acts performed by the employee, contractor, or agent on behalf of the employee, contractor, or agent or associated others in furtherance of other efforts to stop a violation of this chapter, shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee, contractor, or agent whole.  Such relief shall include reinstatement with the same seniority status such employee, contractor, or agent would have had but for the discrimination, two times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay, and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable attorney fees.  An employee, contractor, or agent may bring an action in the appropriate district court of the state for the relief provided in this subsection.

685.4 Procedure — statute of limitations.

1. A subpoena requiring the attendance of a witness at a trial or hearing conducted under this chapter may be served at any place in the state, or through any means authorized in the Iowa rules of civil procedure.

2. A civil action under this chapter may not be brought  more than six years after the date on which the violation of section 685.2 is committed, or more than three years after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the official of state charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances, but in no event more than ten years after the date on which the violation is committed, whichever occurs last.

3. If the state elects to intervene and proceed with an action brought under this chapter, the state may file its own complaint or amend the complaint of a qui tam plaintiff to clarify or add detail to the claims in which the state is intervening and to add any additional claims with respect to which the state contends it is entitled to relief. For statute of limitations purposes, any such state pleading shall relate back to the filing date of the complaint of the qui tam plaintiff who originally brought the action, to the extent that the claim of the state arises out of the conduct, transactions, or occurrences set forth, or attempted to be set forth, in the prior complaint of that person.

4. In any action brought under section 685.3, the state shall prove all essential elements of the cause of action, including damages, by a preponderance of the evidence.

5. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Iowa rules of criminal procedure, or the Iowa rules of evidence, a final judgment rendered in favor of the state in any criminal proceeding charging fraud or false statements, whether upon a verdict after trial or upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, shall estop the defendant from denying the essential elements of the offense in any action which involves the same transaction as in the criminal proceeding and which is brought under section 685.3.

685.5Jurisdiction.

1. Any action under section 685.3 may be brought in any county in which the defendant or, in the case of multiple defendants, any one defendant can be found, resides, transacts business, or in which any act proscribed by section 685.2 occurred. An original notice as required by the Iowa rules of civil procedure shall be issued by the appropriate district court and served in accordance with the Iowa rules of civil procedure.

2. A seal on the action ordered by the court under section 685.3 shall not preclude the state, local government, or the qui tam plaintiff from serving the complaint, any other pleadings, or the written disclosure of substantially all material evidence and information possessed by the qui tam plaintiff on the law enforcement authorities that are authorized under the law of the state or local government to investigate and prosecute such actions on behalf of such governments, except that such seal applies to the law enforcement authorities so served to the same extent as the seal applies to other parties in the action.

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