The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, passed overnight and signed this morning by President Trump to end the second federal government shutdown of this year, includes two key provisions for whistleblowers previously introduced by Senator Charles Grassley but removed from the January budget deal.
The Department of Justice recovered more then $3.7 billion in settlements and judgments in Fiscal Year 2017 from the False Claims Act according to the press release issued last week. The majority of the funds recovered were in lawsuits initiated by whistleblowers. Qui tam lawsuits led to $3.4 billion of the $3.7 billion in settlements and judgments.
We are reaching the end of a decade since mortgage fraud hit its peak in 2007. However, the latest settlement by IberiaBank suggests that at least one lender continued aspects of mortgage fraud against the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) well after becoming informed of their wrongdoing.
We learned last week that the first settlement of claims in the government’s ongoing investigation of ties between pharmaceutical manufacturers and patient assistance programs happened in September when Aegerion Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay more than $35 million to resolve criminal charges and a civil False Claims Act lawsuit.
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has estimated that the state of Wisconsin gave up $11 million when it weakened the Wisconsin False Claims Act and then repealed it as part of the 2015-2017 budget process.
Senator Grassley has proposed 15 amendments to the Senate bill for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Two of those amendments are important to whistleblowers, so we are going to examine them in more detail here.
The Justice Department announced the resolution of a False Claims Act lawsuit with a $75 million settlement by Chemed Corporation and various wholly-owned subsidiaries, including Vitas Hospice Services. The settlement is the largest amount ever recovered under the False Claims Act from a provider of hospice services, according to Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division, Chad A. Readler.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued an Early Alert in late August following disturbing reports of abuse against Medicare Beneficiaries during stays in Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs). The Alert explained that an estimated 22 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events while at an SNF and 69 percent of these incidents could have been prevented with better care.
After a number of whistleblower lawsuits under the False Claims Act, Novo Nordisk will pay approximately $59 million to settle allegations that it minimized the cancer risk of Victoza, a diabetes medication, after the FDA required it to provide safety communications pursuant to a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program.
Whistleblowing has traditionally involved insider reports of corporate wrongdoing by employees of a business. A recent whistleblower lawsuit may signal the start of a new era in the False Claims Act as businesses begin to turn in their unethical competition to the U.S. Government in order to preserve fair competition in the marketplace (and earn a bounty for their help).