Fraud against the U.S. government costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Common types of fraud against the government include Medicare and Medicaid fraud, contractor fraud, and false claims. Under the False Claims Act, people who know about the misuse of government funds and expose the truth – also known as whistleblowers – can file a qui tam lawsuit and potentially receive financial compensation for up to 30% of the amount that the government recovers.
Contact a Florida qui tam lawyer at Law Offices Cytryn & Velazquez to help you in filing a lawsuit involving fraud against the government. Call us today for a free consultation, toll-free at (954) 833-1440.
Medicare is a government program that was started in the 1960s with the purpose of making health care available to the elderly. Unfortunately, criminals running Medicare fraud schemes are ripping off this government program and costing honest and hardworking U.S. taxpayers billions each year.
South Florida has been a hotbed for a large number of Medicare fraud schemes. In 2008, Rita Campos Ramirez of Miami was sentenced to 10 years in prison for running the largest Medicare fraud scheme by an individual. Over the course of about 4 years, Campos Ramirez owned and ran a medical billing company that submitted over 140,000 false Medicare claims, billing $170 million on behalf of HIV clinics in Miami-Dade. 75 HIV clinics were involved in the scheme, and Campos Ramirez received around $5 million for her participation in the scheme, according to a Washington Post article from June 2008.
Another fraud scheme, reported by ABC News in March 2010, involved a location in South Florida that was registered as a pharmacy and had received $1 million from Medicare in two months’ time. Upon investigation, however, it was discovered that the “pharmacy” was in fact an empty space. Investigators claim that this scheme could have been run by just one person who bought the pharmacy, patient records and Medicare license, and then submitted $1 million in claims in two months. According to ABC News, Medicare fraud alone results in over $60 billion in annual costs to taxpayers.
False Claims Act
The False Claims Act allows for citizens who want to expose fraud to come forward and file a lawsuit on behalf the U.S. government, but only with the help of a licensed attorney.
Government fraud takes place at the individual level, as we highlighted in the above stories, but it also takes place at the corporate level. In April 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that CVS Pharmacy was ordered to pay $17.5 million to settle False Claims Act accusations, according to the Boston Herald.
CVS allegedly overcharged 10 state Medicaid programs for prescriptions, including California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. CVS alleges it did not do anything wrong and settled the claim with the Department of Justice.
The whistleblower in the case, a CVS pharmacist from Minnesota, brought the case to the Department of Justice. The pharmacist’s compensation will be nearly $2.6 million.
Other examples of fraud have also been found in the pharmaceutical industry. Illegal actions such as kickbacks to doctors and hospitals, off-label (illegal) drug marketing, and price inflation are commonplace among some pharmaceutical companies, and have resulted in cases brought forward by whistleblowers under Federal and State False Claims Acts.
In early 2011, AstraZeneca, maker of the drug Seroquel, paid a settlement of $68.5 million in a False Claims Act case involving illegal drug marketing. Seroquel, an anti-psychotic drug, generated $5.3 billion in sales for AstraZeneca in 2010. In the lawsuit, 37 states charged the drug manufacturer with deceptive marketing and failure to reveal the drug’s dangerous side effects. In 2010, AstraZeneca paid a $520 million settlement for deceptive marketing of the same drug.
The largest settlement that a pharmaceutical company has paid in U.S. history for health care fraud was in 2009, when Pfizer paid $2.3 billion for illegal marketing of four of its drugs.
Qui Tam Lawsuits
If you are aware of government fraud at the corporate or individual level, contact a Florida qui tam lawyer. A qui tam attorney will help you understand your rights and the legal process involved in filing a qui tam lawsuit.
Call the qui tam lawyers at Law Offices Cytryn & Velazquez for a free consultation toll-free at (954) 833-1440.
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