Gov't recovers record-high $2.8B in whistleblower fraud cases

Breaking records, the government has recovered an all-time high $2.8 billion in false claim cases with the help of whistleblowers, officials announced yesterday.

In total, the Justice Department (DoJ) secured more than $3 billion in settlements and judgments in civil cases involving fraud under the False Claims Act in fiscal year 2011, ending Sept. 30. Of that, $2.4 billion involved fraud committed against federal healthcare programs, mostly attributed to Medicare and Medicaid but also including TRICARE, federal Employees Health Benefits and Veterans Administration health programs.

Recent attention from the government to recover healthcare funds is a signal of its increased crackdown on fraud, abuse and waste.

"Fighting health care fraud is a top priority for the Obama Administration," yesterday's DoJ press release noted.

In fact, 28 percent of the recoveries in the past 25 years occurred since President Obama took office, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Tony West said in the press release.

"These record-setting results reflect the extraordinary determination and effort that this administration, and Attorney General Eric Holder in particular, have put into rooting out fraud, recovering taxpayer money and protecting the integrity of government programs," West said.

Whistleblowers, in particular, have helped bring to light fraud allegations in what West called a "public-private partnership to fight fraud." Since 1986 when the False Claims Act was amended, whistleblowers under qui tam provisions have filed more than 7,800 actions. These suits hit a peak 638 this past year, compared to 300 to 400 in past years.
Medicare's Fraud Strike Force also recently expanded to nine cities, allowing the government to bring in more than $1 billion in fraud--up from $384 million in 2008--with more aggressive monitoring and quicker resolution.

For more information:
- read the press release

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