April 28, 2014

If you have knowledge of fraud being perpetrated against the federal government, you may be reluctant to file a whistleblower qui tam claim. You may feel powerless and that your qui tam claim won’t change anything. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are many areas of whistleblower areas where it may be difficult to measure an impact, such as whistleblowers who expose violations of environmental or mine safety regulations, but claims made under the False Claims Act (FCA) are tracked by the Department of Justice. The DOJ statistics reveal that whistleblowing is a powerful tool that can hold wrongdoers accountable. From 1987 to 2013, the following whistleblower recoveries have been obtained:

  • By the DOJ Civil Fraud Division for FCA claims filed by whistleblowers: $26.21 billion
  • Awards paid to whistleblowers under the FCA: $4.272 billion

These are substantial sums and demonstrate how whistleblowers can put a halt to fraudulent practices. Below are some examples of funds recovered for taxpayers due to the heroic actions of whistleblowers:

  • Amedisys Home Health Companies: $150 million for allegedly submitting false home healthcare billings to the Medicare program.
  • Amerigroup Insurance: $225 million for denying Medicaid coverage to pregnant women.
  • Tennessee Substance Abuse Treatment Facility: $9.25 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims by providing substandard care to its adult and adolescent Medicaid patients suffering from alcohol and drug addiction.
  • Endo Pharmaceuticals and Endo Health Solutions: $192.7 million for marketing prescription drug Lidoderm for unapproved uses.
  • Diagnostic Imaging Group: $15.5 million to resolve allegations that it falsely billed federal and state healthcare programs for tests that were not performed or not necessary and paying kickbacks to physicians.
  • Under the SEC whistleblower program, a whistleblower was awarded $14 million after providing information about a fraudulent investment scheme.
  • Astellas Pharma US: $7.3 million to settle allegations of illegally marketing and promoting the drug Mycamine for pediatric use.
  • Vector Planning and Services: $6.5 million to settle allegations that the Virginia-based company inflated claims for payment under several Navy contracts.
  • JPMorgan Chase: $614 million for originating and underwriting non-compliant mortgage loans submitted for insurance coverage and guarantees by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • RehabCare Group and Health Systems: $30 million to resolve allegations they violated the FCA by engaging in an illegal kickback scheme related to the referral of nursing home business.
  • Wyeth Pharmaceuticals: $490.9 million for illegally marketing the prescription drug Rapamune for unapproved uses.

The above recoveries primarily took place just within the last year. The list of headline-grabbing whistleblower recoveries is almost endless: Hospital Corporation of America ($840 million for taxpayers); Abbott Labs ($400 million); GlaxoSmithKline ($750 million); Pfizer ($2.3 billion); Purdue Frederick Co. ($634.5 million for misbranding Oxycontin); Merck ($650 million); Tenet Healthcare ($900 million).

Since 1987, $27.2 billion has been recovered due to the actions of whistleblower-initiated False Claims Act claims. Whistleblowers have been paid $4.272 billion in rewards for their help in stamping out fraud. None of the substantial awards paid to whistleblowers are financed by taxpayers. The fraudulent government contractor, healthcare company, or other corporation that engaged in the illegal behavior had to pay the bill.

Large awards for whistleblowers act as an incentive for employees to blow the whistle on fraudulent behavior and for companies to ensure compliance with the law. These whistleblowers risked their reputation and careers to serve the public interest.

Enormous funds recovered under the False Claims Act make waves throughout industries and companies. Whistleblower claims can shake up corporations and change the way they do business. Although whistleblowers can change practices that are hard to measure, claims made under the FCA are tracked and measured in sums of money. Whistleblower claims have had an enormous impact and will continue to hold reckless and irresponsible companies accountable.