On November 16, Roger B. Handberg, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, announced that 4 Corner’s Pharmacy has agreed to pay $800,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act (FCA). The case was initiated by a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit.
The government alleges the pharmacy of knowingly overcharging the U.S. Department of Labor for a supplement that was either never requested by a licensed healthcare provider or was never received by beneficiaries. The Department of Labor is responsible for providing compensation and medical expense benefits to eligible claimants who were injured or became sick on the job, or to their families, under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.
“Pharmacies are not allowed to bill federal programs for medications that are not delivered to beneficiaries or that were never ordered by their healthcare provider,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg. “This settlement reflects our determination to hold accountable those who seek to exploit our federal healthcare programs.”
“An important part of the mission of the Office of Inspector General is to investigate allegations of fraud involving the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) programs. We will continue to work with OWCP to protect the integrity of DOL’s workers’ compensation programs,” said Mathew Broadhurst, Special Agent-in-Charge, Southeast Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.
The allegations against 4 Corner’s Pharmacy were brought by a whistleblower under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Qui tam enables private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government if they know of an individual or company defrauding the government. When qui tam suits result in a successful action against a fraudulent company or individual, qui tam whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 15 and 30% of the government’s recovery.
On July 25, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the False Claims Amendments Act of 2023, which address a few technical loopholes undermining the success of the FCA. The bill is widely supported by whistleblower advocates.
“The False Claims Act is America’s number one fraud-fighting law,” said whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn. “These amendments are urgently needed to ensure that whistleblowers can continue to play their key role in protecting taxpayers from corporate criminals.”