Ruqiayah Madany and John Collins’ 2009 qui tam whistleblower lawsuit has led to Dr. Victor Savinov agreeing to pay $50,000 to settle allegations that he received kickbacks and violated the False Claims Act.
The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act enable private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government if they know of an individual or company defrauding the government. Qui tam whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 15 and 30% of the government’s recovery, if one occurs.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. government conducted its own investigation, after which “it intervened and commenced litigation in the qui tam case in 2014.” The whistleblowers’ lawsuit “named over 30 defendants, and the United States has either settled with or obtained judgments against most of those defendants. In March 2022, the Court granted the United States summary judgment against two defendants and awarded the United States nearly $40 million in damages and penalties,” the press release states.
Allegedly, Dr. Savinov “received kickbacks in the form of a credit card payment, free office space, and free use of a medical assistant in exchange for his referral of Medicare patients to home health agencies.” The U.S. “contends that the claims for payment were rendered false because they were tainted by Dr. Savinov’s receipt of unlawful kickbacks, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.”
For their role in the case, the whistleblowers Madany and Collins will receive $11,000.
This settlement — and plenty of other qui tam whistleblower cases — show how whistleblowers are critical to uncovering waste, fraud, and abuse, especially in the medical and health care industry. Fraudulent schemes can be particularly harmful to patients and erode trust in the medical system. In Fiscal Year 2021, qui tam whistleblowers helped the DOJ recover $1.6 billion in settlements. The DOJ highlighted health care fraud as “the leading source of the department’s False Claims Act settlements and judgments.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has been consistently championed as the “patron saint” of whistleblowers, proposed amendments to the False Claims Act in 2021 that would strengthen protections for whistleblowers and clarify existing law. The amendment was widely supported by whistleblower organizations and advocates. However, WNN sources discovered that the pharmaceutical lobby intervened with the amendment’s passage. The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) is urging Congress to protect the False Claims Act: learn more here.