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Whistleblower Protection for Nurses in Health Care Reform Bill

Protected from Whistle Blowing by New Health Care Reform Bill

The “Health Care Reform Bill” that has been at the top of the news lately contains some good news for nurses, nursing home employees, and other health care workers who are suffering under a bullying boss or being harassed at work.

Now this reform bill, which is actually named “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009,” does not outright prohibit bullies in the healthcare workplace. Although it would be a good idea to catch the U.S. up with the rest of the civilized world, we’re still a ways off from making it illegal to purposefully ruin another person’s career.

But, this law can be a another tool that you can learn to use in your fight against an unfair supervisor.

Specifically, the Bill gives whistleblower AND retaliation protection to health care workers! The “PPACA” also puts some muscle on the False Claims Act. If an employee reports anything, even to his or her own employer, that the employee “reasonably believes” is a violation of the Title I section of the Bill, then that employee is a whistleblower — and thus part of a protected class.

So you are probably wondering what “Title I” prohibits… and what things you must report to be protected by this new law. Title I prohibits denying coverage based upon preexisting conditions, it includes policy and financial reporting requirements; and it prohibits treating patients differently based on whether they received health insurance subsidies. Put another way, the bill will protect employees who point out a broad range of infractions their employer is engaging in.

Similar to Title VII, this new bill’s whistleblower rules include a 180 day deadline, and a requirement to file first with an administrative agency (in this case OSHA). And also like Title VII claims there is an option to litigate against your employer before an administrative law judge, or, you can choose to remove the claim to federal court (like getting a “right to sue letter” from the EEOC) and litigate there in front of a jury. This new whistle blower protection allows for reinstatement to your job if you’ve been fired, the back pay you should have received, and attorney’s fees.

What you have to prove is that your whistleblowing was merely “a contributing factor” in your employer’s decision to fire you, demote you, transfer you, give you a bad appraisal or review, deny you a raise, etc.

So what is “a contributing factor,” you ask? It is “any factor which in any way affects the outcome of the decision” to deprive you of your job, a good appraisal , a raise, etc. So all you have to show is that your whistleblowing affected a bosses decision to give you a bad review, for instance — your whistle blowing does NOT have to be the only reason, or even the main reason, that your boss gave you a bad review.

After you prove that, then your employer has a chance to get off by proving “by clear and convincing evidence” that it would have done the exact same thing to you even if you had not blown the whistle. Unless you got caught stealing, this is pretty hard for an employer to prove.

Our next post, later this week, will further explain the new bill’s protections for employees at nursing homes, so be sure to check back.

And what do you think of this aspect of the new bill? If you are a nurse or in health care, have you ever seen patients treated differently because of what insurance they have or don’t have? Have you nurses out there been retaliated against in the past for pointing out policy violations where you work?
Healt Care Reform Bill Sections Protecting Whistleblowers

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Comments

  1. lakeliving says:

    I am a physcian employed by a federally funded clinic. I have noted some things I think are violations of HIPPA, and coding issues, and become very uncomfortable, enough to make a complaint. I suddently became the subject of severe harrassment by an administrator, with clear attempts to produce insubordination claims against me, to the point that I have resigned. Would this clause help me?

  2. I think the law that covers you was passed quite some time ago, which protects people who speak up about HIPAA violations. You can download a Fact Sheet from the federal government here: http://www.osha.gov/Publications/HIPAA-whistleblowerfactsheet.pdf

    And here’s the key part for you:

    If the employee believes that he or she has been retaliated against for such reporting, then he can file a whistleblower complaint under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, also without violating HIPAA. See 45 CFR §530(e)(1).

    I hope this helps!

  3. leejcaroll says:

    During my medical malpractice case many years ago nurses told us they could not testify because “I will lose my job.” This sounds more like it might fll under the “making it illegal to purposefully ruin another person’s career. ” A nurse should not fear retaliation because they want to tell the truth about something wrong they have observed or in which they had participated..

    Carol
    author A PAINED LIFE, a chronic pain journey
    http://apainedlife.blogspot.com/ (The pained life, 30 years and counting, but I have been writing about the suit.)

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  1. tecigg.com says:

    Whistleblower Protection for Nurses in New Health Care Law | UndercoverLawyer…

    New Health Care Reform Bill Provides Whistleblower Protection for Nurses Who Are Retaliated Against For Reporting Their Boss’s Misdeeds…

  2. pligg.com says:

    Whistleblower Protection for Nurses in New Health Care Law | UndercoverLawyer…

    New Health Care Reform Bill Provides Whistleblower Protection for Nurses Who Are Retaliated Against For Reporting Their Boss’s Misdeeds…

  3. Whistleblower Protection for Nurses in New Health Care Law | UndercoverLawyer…

    New Health Care Reform Bill Provides Whistleblower Protection for Nurses Who Are Retaliated Against For Reporting Their Boss’s Misdeeds…

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