The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to tout its total annual recoveries in False Claims Act cases, as it does each year after the federal government’s fiscal year closes in September. In its December 3, 2015, press release, DOJ disclosed that it obtained more than $3.5 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government in the 2015 fiscal year. DOJ boasts that this is the fourth consecutive year that these kinds of recoveries have exceeded $3.5 billion, raising the total recoveries from January 2009 through the end of the fiscal year to a whopping $26.4 billion.
Cases involving the health care industry represented the largest chunk of recoveries in 2015, totaling $1.9 billion from companies and individuals. This figure only includes monies paid to the federal government, not to state Medicaid programs or individuals. Thus, the total sum paid out by the health care industry for False Claims Act cases is actually higher. Since January 2009, federal recoveries from the health care industry have totaled nearly $16.5 billion. DOJ attributes these large sums to the high priority that the Obama Administration places on fighting health care fraud and the efforts of an interagency task force called the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), which was created in 2009.
Other categories specifically mentioned in DOJ’s latest press release are government contracts, from which DOJ recovered $1.1 billion, and housing and mortgage, from which DOJ recovered $365 million.
Of the $3.5 billion recovered in 2015, DOJ reports that the vast majority—$2.8 billion—is related to lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit whistleblowers to file lawsuits alleging false claims on behalf of the government and to recover between 15 and 30 percent of any recoveries. Whistleblowers filed a total of 638 lawsuits in 2015, which is the lowest number of qui tam suits filed since 2011.
Although this year’s overall recovery from False Claims Act cases in 2015 is less than each of the three preceding years—and far less than the $5.69 billion reported at the end of the 2014 fiscal year—it is still a sizeable sum. And, it reveals DOJ’s continued efforts and emphasis on False Claims Act cases.
For further information, see DOJ’s press releases for the last several years: