1997 Regular Session
To: Labor; Insurance
By: Senator(s) Kirby, Farris
Senate Bill 2874
(As Passed the Senate)
AN ACT TO CREATE A WORKERS' COMPENSATION FRAUD BUREAU WITHIN THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL; TO AUTHORIZE ASSESSMENTS ON WORKERS' COMPENSATION CARRIERS TO FUND THE BUREAU; TO CREATE A SPECIAL FUND FOR SUCH ASSESSMENTS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF SUCH FUND; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) There is created within the Office of the Attorney General a Workers' Compensation Fraud Bureau. The duty of the bureau is to investigate and prosecute claims of workers' compensation fraud. The Attorney General is hereby authorized and empowered to employ the necessary personnel to carry out the provisions of this section.
(2) To fund the Workers' Compensation Fraud Bureau, the Workers' Compensation Commission shall assess each workers' compensation carrier and self insurer, in the manner provided in Section 71-3-99, an amount not to exceed one-fourth of one percent (1/4 of 1%) of the gross claims for compensation and medical services and supplies paid. The amount of such assessment shall be based upon the recommendation of the Workers' Compensation Fraud Bureau. Within thirty (30) days of receipt, the Workers' Compensation Commission shall transfer such assessment from the Administrative Expense Fund into a special fund of the Office of the Attorney General, hereby created in the State Treasury and designated as the "Workers' Compensation Fraud Fund." The Workers' Compensation Fraud Fund shall be used solely to defray the expenses of the Workers' Compensation Fraud Bureau, and any interest earned on monies in such fund shall be credited to the fund. Expenditures from the Workers' Compensation Fraud Fund shall be made upon requisition by the Attorney General and subject to appropriation by the Legislature.
(3) If any workers' compensation provider, employee of the Workers' Compensation Commission or other person has a belief that a false or misleading statement or representation or other fraud has been made in connection with or relating to a workers' compensation claim as described in Section 71-3-69, Mississippi Code of 1972, such person or entity is required to report such belief to the Workers' Compensation Fraud Bureau; to furnish any information which may be pertinent; and to cooperate in an investigation conducted by the bureau. Investigators for the Workers' Compensation Fraud Bureau are authorized law enforcement officers and they are authorized to investigate and exercise such powers as are granted to other authorized law enforcement officers. Any person or entity that furnishes information as required by this subsection (3) shall be immune from liability for damages in a civil action for furnishing such information.
(4) All prosecutions for felony violations of Section 71-3-69, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall be instituted by the Attorney General, his designee or the district attorney of the district in which the violation occurred or his designee and shall be conducted in the name of the people of the State of Mississippi. In the prosecution of any criminal proceeding under Section 71-3-69, Mississippi Code of 1972, by the Attorney General, or his designee, and in any proceeding before a grand jury in connection therewith, the Attorney General or his designee shall exercise all the powers and perform all the duties which the district attorney would otherwise be authorized or required to exercise or perform. The Attorney General, or his designee, shall have the authority to issue and serve subpoenas in the investigation of any matter which may violate Section 71-3-69, Mississippi Code of 1972.
(5) The Attorney General, or his designee, shall notify the Workers' Compensation Commission when the fraud bureau opens an investigative file which may lead to a criminal prosecution. Such notification shall be privileged and shall not be subject to release to any third party.
(6) If any provision of this section is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions of the section that can be given effect without the invalid provision and to this end the provisions of this section are severable.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.