“Vigorous enforcement of the False Claims Act not only protects taxpayer dollars; it also protects the integrity of important government programs on which so many of us rely.” — Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, Department of Justice
When the Government is defrauded, the taxpayers are defrauded. President Lincoln recognized this when he signed the False Claims Act in 1863 to fight the businesses that were selling fraudulent goods to the Union army. Over time, the “Lincoln Law”—as it came to be known—was watered down and became nearly obsolete until Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa and Representative Henry L. Berman of California revived the law in 1986. Since that bi-partisan achievement, the False Claims Act (”FCA”) has become our most effective and aggressive weapon in battling fraud against the taxpayers.
Now, the FCA is even helping us manage our nation’s budget, by punishing fraudsters and recovering the tax dollars they stole from the public. Not only does enforcement of our whistleblower programs result in the taxpayers being reimbursed, it also deters any future cheating of government programs. The Justice Department secured $4.9 billion in settlements and judgments in civil cases involving fraud against the government in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012—the most successful year in the FCA’s history. Much of the recent recoveries has been in the area of health care fraud, where business continue to fraudulently bill Medicare, Medicaid, and other government healthcare programs. During the past four years, the government has recovered a total of $14.9 billion in Medicare fraud money, due in large part to the 2010 amendments to the FCA—all to the benefit of the taxpayers. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently credited the FCA as part of the reason Medicare solvency has been extended by two years in the annual trustees report.
Having a strong and effective False Claims Act is essential to policing those who wish to raid the public fisc. As Congress continues to encourage our citizens to expose fraud against the government, either through the FCA or by creating Whistleblower Offices within the Securities and Exchange Commission or Internal Revenue Service, it won’t just be whistleblowers who will benefit—all taxpayers will benefit.
If you believe you have information regarding fraud against the government and are considering bringing a False Claims Act case, please contact James Hoyer for an evaluation of your claims. Click here for more information about the firm and to submit your information electronically, or you may contact our office at 813-397-2300.
Written by Sean P. Keefe