Texas Fraud Fighter Honored with Honest Abe Integrity in Government Award
Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund, Washington, D.C., September 12, 2007
Taxpayers Against Fraud has named Patrick O’Connell winner of its Honest Abe Integrity in Government Award for his tireless efforts in fighting fraud and working to help recover America’s stolen tax dollars.
Notes Jeb White, Executive Director of Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF): “As Chief of the Civil Medicaid Fraud Section of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, Pat O’Connell has shown all the other states how to win the war on health care fraud. Pat has joined cases – and won settlements – from Bayer, TAP, Serono, King Pharmaceuticals and Schering-Plough. He has joined cases against Warrick, Dey, Roxanne, and Abbott. In case after case, Pat O’Connell and his Texas team have been the leader in helping recover some of America’s stolen billions.
“Pat’s efforts have paid real dividends, too. To put a number on it, while Pat was chief of the Medicaid Fraud section in Texas Attorney General’s office, that Section collected over $216 million in restitution, penalties, attorneys’ fees and costs.”
TAF says the key to Texas’ success in fighting Medicaid fraud has been working to create a public-private partnership between health care whistleblowers, private law firms representing those whistleblowers, and the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.
Under the Texas False Claims Act, companies found to be defrauding Medicaid can be made to pay triple damages, with a portion of the money recovered (typically 15 percent) set aside as an award to the whistleblower and his or her attorney for presenting the evidence and helping make the case. The rest of the money — typically 85% of a triple damage award — flows back to State and Federal Government, which helps to keep taxes low.
“The Texas False Claims Act has been a winner at every level,” says White, “but you need more than paper law to show you are really serious about fighting fraud. Ultimately, you need someone who will suit up and show up to make that law work, and Pat O’Connell did that in the most Texas way imaginable; he put together a posse of citizen whistleblowers and their attorneys to bring liars, cheats and thieves to justice. For that, the citizens of Texas and the nation can be truly grateful.”