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Whistleblower Protections in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), enacted in March of 2010, the federal government extended whistleblower protections to those who report breakdowns in patient care, waste, abuse or fraud in health care.

The PPACA revised the Fair labor Standards Act of 1938 to include whistleblower provisions to protect health care workers. Specifically, the PPACA whistleblower protections prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against any employee who:

  • Provides, or intends to provide, the employer, the federal government or the attorney general with information that the employee reasonably believes to be a violation of the PPACA
  • Testifies, or intends to testify, about a violation of the PPACA
  • Objects to or refuses to participate in any activity, policy, practice or task that the employee reasonably believed to be in violation of the PPACA

The PPACA whistleblower provisions are similar to protections for other workers that lawmakers have passed recently, such as the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act passed in 2008 to protect retail employees.

PPACA Whistleblower Loophole

However, the whistleblower provisions only apply to alleged violations of Title I of the PPACA — leaving a loophole that denies protection to many potential whistleblowers. Workers not covered include those providing care or involved in:

  • Nursing homes
  • Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expansion
  • Innovative therapies or treatment
  • Preventative care

If you have questions concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or the whistleblower provisions that are contained within, please speak with an experienced attorney.

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