Two False Claims Act Settlements were reported yesterday, totaling approximately $280 million in fraudulently obtained government contract money that is now being returned to the US taxpayers.
- Health insurance giant Amerigroup has settled with the governments of the United States and the State of Illinois, agreeing to pay $225 million plus legal fees. Amerigroup was exposed by whistleblower Cleveland Tyson, who was the company’s Government Relations executive. He brought the suit in 2002, which went to trial, where, according to a press release issued by his attorneys:
"…the jury found that Amerigroup deliberately avoided enrolling recipients with costly health conditions or who were pregnant and in their third trimester. These actions were taken while Amerigroup received IDPA payments calculated on Amerigroup providing healthcare to all enrollees."
- CoxHealth, a large non-profit hospital chain in the Springfield, MO area, has announced a $60 million FCA settlement stemming from allegations of "improper Medicare billing and questionable business relationships."
The False Claims Act is the most effective whistleblower law on the books, as these settlements show, but it has been eroded in recent years by negative court decisions, such as Allison Engine Co., Inc. v. United States, ex rel. Sanders. To counter these decisions, Senator Charles Grassley and other Congressional leaders have introduced a bill to amend the FCA. Most recently, the bill was approved by both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.