August 12, 2015

Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce’s love/hate relationship with public-private partnerships

By Tim McCormack and Molly Knobler (published in The Hill)

Last month, bucking a national trend of increased use of state False Claims Acts to pursue fraudulent Medicaid billing, the Wisconsin legislature with “no hearings or even public discussion” repealed Wisconsin’s False Claims Act.  The Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce has previously called for such a repeal arguing that rather than allow “private attorneys to sue businesses for alleged fraud,” the state should leave this job to the government employees at the Department of Justice.  This is curious because in pretty much every other arena, the Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce loves outsourcing traditional government functions to private entities.  Outside of fraud enforcement, it seems, the chamber universally views the private sector as able to “accomplish [government functions] more cheaply and efficiently than government can.”

Why could that be?  Given the incredible success of the False Claims Act – not only the Wisconsin statue, but the companion statutes of the United States and close to 30 other states – in empowering whistleblowers and private attorneys to bring their knowledge, expertise and resources to bear in helping the Government combat fraud, it is hard to imagine that a lack of effectiveness is the real problem.  Instead, might the problem for the Chamber and the powerful business interests it represents – many of whom earn a lot of money from government business and contracts – be the exact opposite?

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