Whistleblower cases represent one of the fastest growing areas of consumer litigation in the country. This is especially true of claims brought against certain practices in the health care industry. Studies have shown that up to 10% of Medicare and Medicaid charges are fraudulent. That should shock even my Tea Party friends. Common examples of Medicare and Medicaid fraud include:
• Billing more than once for the same service;
• Charging for services not performed;
• Offering free items or services in exchange for a Medicare or Medicaid number;
• Billing for expensive equipment while providing cheaper equipment; and
• Someone other than the physician completing the certificate of medical necessity.
The Obama Administration demonstrated great foresight in advocating for increased funding for the Department of Justice to prosecute these cases. USA Today reports that in 2011, the federal government brought in a record $2.3 billion in whistleblower settlements and judgments. This amounts to $7 for each $1 spent by the government fighting fraud. Steven Kohn, director of the non-partisan National Whistleblowers Center, told USA TODAY that the law could be used even more aggressively. He stated:
About 3,500 fraud cases have not been investigated. Why don’t they get the resources? For every case they prosecute, they bring in more money.
In many instances, whistleblower cases are litigated in partnership between the Department of Justice and the private law firm that initially filed the case on behalf of the whistleblower Plaintiff. Most whistleblowers first report fraud to company managers and are routinely ignored. They then turn to private counsel or law enforcement when they grow frustrated that the fraud continues.
Whistleblower suits are filed under seal, and the government is given an opportunity to investigate the case and intervene if it chooses to do so. The government can recover treble damages under the law, and private Plaintiffs and their counsel can recoup fees up to 30% of the amount recovered. We have several lawyers in our firm handling whistleblower cases. To learn more, you can contact either Dee Miles (Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com), Larry Golston (Larry.Golston@beasleyallen.com), Archie Grubb (Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com), or Andrew Brashier (Andrew.Brashier@beasleyallen.com), lawyers in our Consumer Fraud Section. You can also visit our website for more information at https://www.beasleyallen.com/focus/whistleblower/.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
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