Big changes are coming in our country; that’s no surprise to most people. But what kinds of changes might a Trump administration bring when it comes to enforcing the False Claims Act (FCA)? We have some thoughts on the ways that bringing a case, and a case’s eventual outcome, might turn out.
Will Big Paydays Continue?
The FCA saw an enormous rise in enforcement under Obama, with the annual recovery figure averaging $3.9 billion, more than double the $1.8 billion average under George W. Bush. It may well be difficult for the Trump Administration to drastically increase the dollar amounts of recoveries and match previous efforts. But many insiders believe that the prosecution of fraud will not fade away; large recoveries will still be the order of the day. If the increase from one administration to the next is not as large, it likely won’t be for lack of cases.
The U.S. Attorney General’s Office under Sessions
Senator Jeff Sessions has voiced his support of whistleblowers, having commented in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing of him that, “It’s not acceptable to retaliate against a whistleblower. Some have been known to be crank, as you indicated, but you cannot effectively manage this government without good citizens and good employees speaking up when they see wrongdoing.”
However, Sen. Sessions has mentioned having mixed feelings about the Department of Justice seeking “prolonged extensions” of the usual 60-day seal on cases. Such a predisposition might result in the DOJ declining cases more often than currently if they think they can’t investigate claims quickly enough. However, it’s possible that the DOJ might eventually intervene once an investigation is finished, and, of course, whistleblower attorneys could still choose to move ahead without intervention.
Choices of U.S. Attorneys
Many of those in the know believe that the choice to keep or replace U.S. Attorneys, of which there are more than 90 in our country, will not impact the FCA much. For one thing, it’s not likely that a U.S. Attorney would give short shrift to the most lucrative of targets, drug manufacturers and hospitals, in FCA cases, regardless of the personal politics involved. For another, the most well-known U.S. Attorney in our country has agreed to continue in the Southern District of New York. The retention of Preet Bharara, even though he often focuses on securities fraud, not healthcare fraud, has been characterized as suggesting a big emphasis on FCA enforcement in the new administration.
What Trump is on Record as Saying
In a number of speeches and comments, Trump has suggested he’s in favor of intense enforcement of false claims cases. He has sounded angry about high prices for prescription drugs, which could indicate an interest in keeping false claims pressure on drugmakers and health care providers. His campaign platform states that he wants to “attack our debt and deficit by vigorously eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government.” While his statements are not the clearest ones with regard to the FCA, they seem to indicate an interest in combating fraud against the government.
Replacing Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court
Some believe that the replacement of Antonin Scalia might affect the outcomes of FCA cases that end up in front of the Supreme Court. However, recent FCA cases have not been decided by a close vote; most of the major decisions have been unanimous. Therefore, replacing Scalia may not impact the enforcement of the FCA to a great extent.
In summary, FCA enforcement might well be as rigorous as under the Obama administration, but whistleblowers and other plaintiffs might also have to supply more substantive facts and do more “heavy lifting” to support their claims.
Making a difference
If you think you have the facts needed to bring a whistleblower case, the experienced whistleblower attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm can review your case and help you file the appropriate disclosure statement. Under some circumstances, the government will intervene, or join in your lawsuit.
Your chances of succeeding are greater if your whistleblower claim is substantive, clear, and to the point. Because of this, meeting with a qualified whistleblower attorney can increase your chances of winning. The Louthian Law Firm can help you form your claim so that the government will be more inclined to intervene in your case; government intervention can sometimes increase the chances of recovering reward money. Even if the government decides not to intervene, it could still be a good idea to pursue your case without government involvement. Our strong support system can assist you through every step of the process.
For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, call the Louthian Law Firm today at 1-803-454-1200 or, if you prefer, you can fill out our online contact form.