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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Report: Whistleblower Medicaid Fraud Law Paying Off In Washington

Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network files

A three-year-old Washington state law that allows whistleblowers to bring Medicaid fraud lawsuits is working. That’s according to a review by legislative auditors that urges lawmakers to renew the law before it expires next year.

Medicaid is a nearly $10 billion-per-year program in Washington that provides healthcare to low-income people. In 2012 state law changed to allow citizen whistleblowers to file lawsuits alleging Medicaid fraud by providers.

Since the law took effect whistleblowers have brought seven cases, one of which settled for more than $3.5 million. Overall, Medicaid fraud recoveries are up 28 percent in Washington since 2012.

Legislative auditors say they found no evidence the law is encouraging frivolous lawsuits -- a key concern of opponents. Their report urges the legislature to renew the so-called False Claims Act before it expires next summer.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."