The threat for health care providers of qui tam actions, also known as whistleblower lawsuits, under the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) is very real these days. Tough economic times and recent changes in the FCA protecting whistleblowers have made the lure of financial gain from qui tam actions more attractive to potential whistleblowers.
Under the FCA qui tam provision, persons with evidence of fraud against federal programs can sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the United States. The government has the right to intervene in such actions, but if the government declines, the private plaintiff may proceed on his or her own. Employees who bring qui tam actions can receive between 15 and 30 % of any monies recovered by the government. The FCA specifically protects employees who become whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers.