United States Pays Whistleblowers over $300 Million in 2020
Each year the Department of Justice releases statistics for the previous year’s False Claims Act cases. These statistics reveal among other things, how many False Claims Act lawsuits were filed, what the United States recovered, and how much the United States shared with the whistleblowers that disclosed fraud against the government.
Not surprisingly given the unusual nature of the year, 2020 was a relatively small year for False Claims Act recoveries. In 2020 the United States recovered $2.2 billion through False Claims Act cases, down from $3.1 billion in 2019. Nevertheless, this is the tenth straight year that False Claims Act recoveries have exceeded $2 billion dollars. And digging into the 2020 False Claims Act statistics reveals some interesting insights and reasons for optimism going forward.
Whistleblowers Recoveries are Up
Despite the overall decline in False Claims Act recoveries, the United States actually paid whistleblowers much more in 2020 than in 2019. Indeed, in 2019, the United States shared just over $265 million with whistleblowers that filed qui tam lawsuits on behalf of the United States. In 2020, that number grew to over $309 million. The increase in payments to whistleblowers—even as the overall recovery dropped—shows that whistleblowers remain critical to the False Claims Act and to the United States’ efforts to deter and detect fraud.
Health Care Fraud Continues to Lead the Way
Typically, most False Claims Act recoveries come from the health care sector. And 2020 was no different. About $1.8 billion—over 80% of the total haul—resulted from claims in the health care sector. That total includes only money recovered by the United States. The individual states recovered tens of millions more through recoveries related to Medicaid fraud. As health care continues to be a significant and growing cost to the United States, healthcare will likely remain the leading industry for False Claims Act recoveries.
Although 2020 was a down year for overall recoveries, it looks to be the calm before the storm. And, for several reasons, 2021 should see a significant increase in the False Claims Act recoveries. First, the United States has in recent years deployed the False Claims Act to combat fraud in connection with the ongoing opioid epidemic. Many of those lawsuits, which are likely to result in significant settlements and recoveries, are nearing completion and should resolve in 2021. Second, 2021 will likely see the first round of settlements and recoveries in False Claims Act cases related to Covid-19 and the fraud certainly resulting from the United States’ efforts to combat the pandemic.
The False Claims Act remains the primary weapon for the United States to fight fraud. And even with the many challenges that 2020 presented, whistleblowers filed 672 False Claims Act lawsuits—more than in 2019. The whistleblower attorneys at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens stand ready to confidentially consult with you about any False Claims Act or whistleblower questions that you may have. For a free, and confidential consultation, please call us at 727-220-4000.