Whistleblower Filed Cases Reach High of 783 in 2013

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A record high of 783 people filed whistleblower lawsuits last year accounting for 89 percent of Department of Justice fraud cases filed in 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Because of qui tam cases, the government will receive high payouts from contractor-fraud lawsuits.

Whistleblower activity has certainly jumped up since 1987, when the government decided to more actively fight fraud by boosting whistleblower payouts. That year, $86 million was collected as a result of 30 qui tam cases. At the end of fiscal 2014, the DOJ is expected to collect over $5 billion under the False Claims Act, according to Patrick Burns, co-director of the nonprofit Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund. This includes the $2.2 billion Johnson & Johnson paid in November to resolve allegations of off-label marketing with its antipsychotic medication Risperdal.

The government has collected $39 billion since 1987 stemming from whistleblower cases. Whistleblower payouts total $4.3 billion, including $388 million in 2013.

In April, a nurse in Alabama received $15 million for her case against national home healthcare company Amedisys Inc., which allegedly submitted false home healthcare billings to Medicare for home health services. She alleged that electronic forms used during patient visits were set up to make patients look more ill than they truly were. Amedisys, which admits no wrongdoing, paid $150 million to resolve these allegations.

Qui tam lawsuits make up most of the DOJ’s health-care fraud cases. According to Bloomberg,the term comes latin for “he who dues in this matter for the kind, as well as himself.” In successful qui tam cases, whistleblowers are entitled to a portion of the money recovered. On average, whistleblowers received 16 percent in health-care fraud cases.