Big Business Attempts to Weaken False Claims Act

The False Claims Act (FCA) was enacted to create a way for people who learn of corporate wrongdoing against the government to be able to “blow the whistle” without fear of retribution. This is especially important for employees who work for the company trying to defraud the government. It stands to reason that without some modicum of protection, most people would keep their head down and collect their paychecks allowing fraud to continue rampantly.

That being said, it should be obvious that corporations aren’t fans of the FCA. In fact, recently, many companies — pharmaceutical firms, contractors that do business with the US, and healthcare providers that rely on Medicare reimbursements – are crying foul. They believe that people are abusing the protections afforded by the FCA.

The problem for the general public is that Big Business employs Big Lobbyists. These lobbying firms are hard at work in Washington DC trying to get Congress to adjust the reins on the FCA. In fact, at a recent hearing of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, a lobbyist said that the FCA “encourages frivolous claims without deterring enough misconduct.” It has been suggested that anyone looking to “blow the whistle” on their employer would have to lodge a complaint internally before they were able to file a lawsuit about the company.

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley has made it clear in written testimony before the House Subcommittee that the thought of giving Big Business more power when it comes to FCA claims is worrisome.  “I’m always wary when I hear the biggest violators of a law hire people to talk about ‘strengthening’ it,” Grassley said. “The fact is that no other law in existence has been more effective in battling fraud than the False Claims Act has in the past 25 years.”

“No matter what we do to deter waste and fraud,” he wrote, “whistle-blowers are the key to the government finding out about it when it happens. We have to do all we can to protect them from those who resist the role they play.”

The FCA, strengthened in 1987, encouraged people to report fraud. If an FCA lawsuit is successful, the plaintiff stands to receive a portion of the recovery. In the past 25 years, the government has recovered about $42 billion in FCA claims.

If you believe you have information about fraudulent behavior, you may have a whistleblower claim. Contact the experienced qui tam attorneys at Begelman & Orlow, P. C. for a consultation about your case.

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