The False Claim Act for healthcare is essentially a small component of a much larger set of regulations making it a crime to knowingly record or file a false claim, regarding any federal healthcare program. While Medicare and Medicaid are both considered federally funded programs, it also extends coverage to any plan or program providing health benefits (including through insurance) which receives any funding from the federal government or state-sponsored healthcare system.
Examples of fraud covered under the FCA include billing for services never received, double billing (billing for the same service more than once), or making any sort of false statement in an effort to obtain payment for services.
Penalties Associated with Falsifying Claims
Any violation discovered and prosecuted under the FCA carries stiff penalties. From a financial perspective, an individual or organization is on the hook for three times the amount of the falsified claim, plus an additional penalty of up to $11,000. These penalties are on a per claim basis, so in cases of systematic fraud, the dollars begin to add up quickly.
Violations can also be counted as a felony charge, and result in jail time, additional fines, or both. Anyone found to have received a benefit by way of fraud, made a fraudulent statement, or worked to conceal material facts can be held liable.
Protection for Individuals Reporting Fraud – aka – Whistleblowers
Any employee who reports a violation under the False Claims Act is legally protected from harassment, suspension, or being fired as a result of their reporting. If the court finds the employee did suffer discrimination, they may be awarded two times their back pay (with interest), immediate reinstatement of their original job, and additional compensation for costs incurred and any damages suffered as a result.
When the Qui Tam Provision May Apply
Qui tam is an abbreviation for a Latin phrase that very loosely translates to someone who brings a case on behalf of themselves and their “king”. Basically, it means you can sue someone on behalf of the government, and be paid a percentage of any of the funds recovered as a result of the lawsuit, even if you were engaged in, or a part of, any illegal activities covered by the FCA.
It is worth noting here that any awards received as qui tam payments are considered ordinary income, and taxed as such by IRS. While previous qui tam relators have attempted to have these payments classified as capital gains, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the IRS’ position on income classification.
Think You Have a False Claim Act for Healthcare Case?
Contact the experienced attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606, and find out if the False Claim Act for healthcare applies to your situation.