Health Care Bill Includes Whistleblower Protections for Hospital Employees

For Immediate Release

Dylan Blaylock
202.408.0034 ext. 137

Health Care Bill Includes Whistleblower Protections for Hospital Employees

‘Best Practice’ Whistleblower Rights Apply to Basic Medical Care Providers

WASHINGTON - The Government Accountability Project (GAP) today
praised "best
practice" anti-retaliation whistleblower rights in the Patient
and Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama. The law
protection for workers who challenge breakdowns in the provision of most
medical care, including upcoming medical exchanges.

the new law has best practice whistleblower protections covering
millions of hospital
employees across the country, along with employees of direct care

Inexplicably, however,
the accountability shield only
applies to Title I out of nine in the law. GAP Legal Director Tom Devine
explained, "The health reform law has gold standard rights for those who
challenge patient care breakdowns, fraud, waste or abuse in traditional
care settings. There is no excuse, however, to leave whistleblowers
who challenge integrity breakdowns in the rest of this massive law."

protections for the new law are in sections 1558 and 2706(b) of Title I,
covering the basic provision of medical care. They are identical to
passed by Congress in 2008 for retail employees in the Consumer Products
Improvement Act, and consistent with seven other national corporate
whistleblower laws campaigned for by GAP and enacted by Congress since
The rights include:

  • protection for refusing to violate
    the law, or public or private whistleblowing disclosures
  • an administrative investigation
    and hearing at the Department of Labor to challenge any discrimination
  • access to court for a jury trial
    if the Department of Labor (DOL) has not provided relief sought by the
    whistleblower within 180 days, or within 90 days of an adverse ruling
  • legal burdens of proof so
    employees can prove a case by demonstrating that whistleblowing or
    refusal to
    violate the law was a "contributing factor" in getting fired or
    other discrimination, after which employers must prove by clear and
    evidence that they would have taken the same action anyway for
    reasons had the whistleblowers remained silent
  • reinstatement, compensatory
    damages, attorney fees and any other relief necessary to "make
    whole" whistleblowers who win their cases
  • bans on gag orders conflicting
    with the law's free speech rights that employers often impose as a job
  • bans on company-financed
    arbitrations imposed as substitutes for statutory rights like DOL
    hearings or
    jury trials -.also imposed frequently as a condition of employment.

Unfortunately, employees
falling outside of Title I
(the new law's core provision for medical care in conventional settings)
are not covered. Those workers will proceed at their own risk against
waste or abuse for these other types of activities, including those
involved in
Medicare and Children's Health Insurance Program (SHIP) expansion;
Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP program integrity; nursing home care for the
elderly; innovative treatment and therapies; payments and
prescription drugs; preventive care; expansion and increased training of
health care workforce; house-call visits; and grants for expansion of
care to
under-served populations.

Partially compensating
for the loophole, the new law
makes it easier to file False Claims Act suits against fraud for any
including the new "exchanges."

The loophole for eight
out of nine titles comes despite a January letter from 46 patient care,
taxpayer, consumer, community and public interest organizations both for
against the legislation, who had protested: 

corporate employees defending part of a statute would be unprecedented.
Every corporate whistleblower provision ever passed has covered the
entire law
that it was part of. The loophole also would cut back on accountability
boundaries in the stimulus law, which has whistleblower protection for
medical care stimulus spending recipients.

GAP will keep trying to
close this accountability
loophole in any future, relevant legislation. 


The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.

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