The Impact of the False Claims Act
During the last four years, the Department of Justice obtained more than $3.5 billion annually in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud against the government. Total recoveries from January 2009 through October 2015 totaled $26.4 billion. Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said that “The False Claims Act has again proven to be the government’s most effective civil tool to ferret out fraud and return billions to taxpayer-funded programs.” In total, since the Act was amended in 1986, it has returned an astounding $48.4 billion to the U.S. Treasury.
Each year the Department of Justice reports on the significant success of False Claims Act cases brought by individual citizens. In the years immediately after 1986 when the False Claims was amended, most qui tam cases involved fraud by defense contractors against the Pentagon. For instance, from 1998 through 1992, health care accounted for approximately 15% of all new qui tam cases. More recently, however, the number of health care fraud qui tam cases has been rising steadily. During 2014 and 2015, approximately two-thirds of all new qui tam cases involved allegations of fraud against government-funded health insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
The government’s most recent figures demonstrate the significant growth in numbers of cases and dollars recovered through qui tam actions since the False Claims Act was amended in 1986. The government reports that over 10,500 qui tam cases have been filed since 1986 with an average of 675 being filed during each of the last five years.
Of the over $48.4 billion that has been recovered through qui tam, only $2.2 billion — less than 5% of all qui tam recoveries — has occurred in cases that were declined by the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice reports that it intervenes in less than 22% of the qui tam cases that are filed.
Relator’s share awards when the Department of Justice decides to participate in the action have totaled $4.8 billion or approximately 15.4% of the proceeds recovered.
You can download the 2015 False Claims Act statistics published by the Department of Justice here.