What is the federal whistleblower statute?
Many people do not know that there is a federal statute that provides job protection as well as a potential substantial monetary reward for whistleblowers who report fraud against the federal government. The Civil False Claims Act, also known as the Qui Tam Statute, 31 U.S.C. Section 3729 et seq., allows a private individual to sue a person or company who is knowingly submitting false bills to the federal government. The False Claims Act also prohibits an employer from harassing or retaliating against an employee for attempting to uncover or report fraud against the federal government.
Fraud against the government in the medical and defense industries is unfortunately rampant. According to some studies, as much as 10 percent of Medicare charges that are submitted to the government are fraudulent – unscrupulous doctors and hospitals often take advantage of the fact that there is little supervision of their billings to pad their revenue.
What types of conduct can whistleblowers report?
Some examples of fraud are:
- Billing more than once for the same service
- Charging for services not performed
- Charging more than the standard rate for services or goods
- Offering free items or services in exchange for a Medicare or Medicaid number
- Billing for expensive goods and only providing less-expensive goods
- Performing medical goods or services that are not medically necessary
What can a whistleblower recover?
The False Claims Act provides two types of possible relief for whistleblowers. First, it provides protection from retaliation for reporting fraud against the government. If retaliation does occur, the whistleblower may be awarded “all relief necessary to make the employee whole,” including reinstatement, two times the amount of back pay, litigation costs and attorney fees. Secondly, it allows the whistleblower to recover a portion of the money recouped by the federal government for the fraudulent scheme. More than 2,400 qui tam suits have been filed since 1986. The government has recovered over $2 billion as a result of the suits, of which almost $340 million has been paid to relators/whistleblowers. If the whistleblower’s suit is successful, he or she may receive from 15–30 percent of the government’s total recovery.
Josh Borsellino is a Dallas/Fort Worth whistleblower attorney
If you have knowledge of fraudulent billings made by your employer against the federal government, speak with an attorney experienced in handling false claims cases. Josh Borsellino is a Fort Worth whistleblower attorney who handles False Claims Act and Qui Tam claims across Texas. For a free consultation, call Josh at 817.908.9861 or complete this form.