Health-Care Whistleblowers Are on the Rise

We’re all taught from a young age that if we see something that’s wrong, we should tell someone about it. More and more, health-care whistleblowers are doing just that.

Whistleblowers were responsible for $3.7 billion in health-care recoveries in fiscal year 2017, and that number will likely increase, attorneys said at a recent Federal Bar Association conference I attended.

In addition to their overall growth, whistleblower cases are increasingly moving forward even when the government declines to intervene, Jennifer Verkamp, an attorney with Morgan Verkamp said. Out of the $3.7 billion in recoveries, only $265 million were from government-led cases, Verkamp said, and $426 million were the result of cases where the government declined to intervene.

The government has the right to take over a whistleblower’s False Claims Act case and take it to trial.

However, the government is never fully out of a whistleblower case, even when they decline to intervene, Susan Gouinlock, an attorney with Wilbanks & Gouinlock LLP, said. For example, Gouinlock said the government has the right to request copies of all pleadings and depositions involved with the case, and can intervene again if it can show a good cause for doing so.

The conference also featured a keynote by Deputy Associate Attorney General Stephen Cox, who said the False Claims Act can help the Department of Justice fight the opioid crisis by uncovering drug distribution schemes and other fraudulent activity that are flooding the streets with opioid medications.

However, Cox said the DOJ was committed to avoid any attempts to push the envelope by regulating through enforcement activities.

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