February 14, 2023. The Department of Justice released its report on False Claims Act settlements and judgments for Fiscal Year 2022, which revealed an impressive $2 billion recovered from fraudsters. The government was a party to 351 settlements and judgments in FY 2022—the second-highest number of settlements and judgments in a single year since 1986. Furthermore, this is the second highest number of settlements and judgments entered in a single year since 1986. Whistleblowers were awarded more money in cases where the US declined to intervene, underlining their essential role in fighting fraud. Read on to learn more about the DOJ’s report and what it means for qui tam lawsuits and whistleblower rewards.
Overview of Settlements
Over six hundred qui tam cases (652) were filed in FY2022. Qui tam lawsuits under the False Claims Act remain an unmatched tool for combating fraud against the government.
Whistleblower rewards are extremely important for qui tam plaintiffs, as they can receive a percentage of the recovered funds for bringing their qui tam cases forward. These rewards can range from 15 to 30 percent, depending on the case and whether the government intervenes. In FY 2022, qui tam plaintiffs were awarded more than $488 million in qui tam whistleblower rewards, the sixth highest amount of money awarded in a fiscal year to whistleblowers since 1986.
Healthcare Fraud Recoveries
Health care fraud continues to be a major source of False Claims Act settlements and judgments, with particularly notable recoveries in cases where whistleblowers pursued Medicaid fraud, billing for unnecessary services and substandard care, Medicare Advantage fraud, drug pricing, and unlawful kickbacks. In FY 2022, the Department of Justice recovered almost $1.7 billion in total from qui tam lawsuits, with whistleblowers receiving 84% of the total awards in the year. The DOJ specifically mentioned the $2.1 million settlement against SignatureHomeNow, a Medicare fraud case in which TZ represented the whistleblowers.
Defense Spending Fraud Recoveries
Defense spending fraud related settlements only accounted for 5% of total FY 2022 settlements and judgments. Defense spending is such a huge part of the federal budget, yet total recoveries tend to trend well below healthcare and other types of fraud each year. Notable defense contracting fraud False Claims Act cases involved bid rigging and sale of counterfeit apparel to the U.S. government. Employees of government contractors are provided financial incentives to report government fraud.
How do the FY 2022 results stack up against last year?
Total whistleblower awards increased by 85% between 2021 ($263,863,455) and 2022 ($488,994,280). In cases where the U.S. declined to intervene, and the relator pursued the case on behalf of the United States, relators earned 455% more in FY22 settlements and judgments ($62,488,398 in 2021 vs. $347,050,712 in 2022). There were 652 qui tam matters filed in 2022, a slight increase over the 598 filed in 2021. With qui tam lawsuits making an important impact in the fight against fraud, it is critical that qui tam plaintiffs are aware of their rights to qui tam whistleblower rewards. By bringing qui tam cases forward under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers can help protect taxpayer dollars, hold wrongdoers accountable, and be rewarded for their efforts.
If you would like to report Medicare, Medicaid, government contracting, or other fraud involving taxpayer-funded programs or contracts, you can contact attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP. Eva Gunasekera and Renée Brooker are former officials of the United States Department of Justice and prosecuted whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act. Eva was the Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud. Renée served as Assistant Director at the United States Department of Justice, the office that supervises False Claims Act cases in all 94 United States District Courts. Eva and Renée now represent whistleblowers. For a free consultation, you can contact Eva Gunasekera at [email protected] or contact Renée at [email protected] (tel.: 202-417-3664). Visit Tycko & Zavareei LLP’s website for whistleblowers to learn more at https://www.fraudfighters.net/.