The DOJ's Assistant Attorney General Tony West realizes that healthcare fraud is a serious issue that can't be fought alone. Since 2009, he has led DOJ's Civil Division and is requesting help from Congress to combat healthcare fraud. We applaud Assistant Attorney General Tony West for his efforts in admitting that the DOJ needs help. This is a first step in making progress.
Earlier this week, Senator's Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced the Healthcare Fraud Enforcement Act to Congress. This bill outlines enforcement issues and calls for increasing rewards for whistleblowers. It is estimated that an additional $20 million is needed in federal funding to increase Medicare fraud investigations and prosecutions.
Fighting healthcare fraud is a bi-partisan effort. Senator's Chuck Grassly (R-Iowa) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) are also concerned about how the DOJ plans on fighting healthcare fraud. According to Sen, Chuck Grassley, there are over 1,040 pending qui tam lawsuits in the DOJ, some over 36 months. A strong plan of action needs to be in place to bring qui tam lawsuits to trial and swift justice for those found guilty.
Whistleblowers should be encouraged with this week's progress in the fight against healthcare fraud. Qui tam lawsuits will increase next year if Congress and the DOJ make a concerted effort to fund and staff the teams charged with handling this task.
We recommend that whistleblowers remain steadfast. Enlist legal help of a private attorney on qui tam claims. This can ease some of the burdens, when bringing a qui tam lawsuit. Also, this can help ensure that the whistleblower's rights are protected.