Here’s how we covered the False Claims Act last March. (Get it? Whistleblower?)
Every now and then, the timeliness of a magazine article is brought home to you with great force. Yesterday’s Arizona Republic contained a piece that reminded me how valuable a magazine (even in print!) can be.
The subject of the Dennis Wagner story is a huge fraud settlement that a Tucson hospital must pay. As the article says, the Carondelet Health Network will pay $35 million, which is “the largest penalty of its kind in Arizona.” Just as fascinating, though, is the fact that “a whistle-blower who exposed the case will receive nearly $6 million of that sum.”
Read the whole story here.
The whistleblower is a Tucson woman named Jacqueline Bloink, “identified online as president of an agency that provides health-care compliance consulting and fraud investigations.”
Bloink sued Carondelet in 2011 in federal court. Then, “The Justice Department intervened and said Carondelet ‘knowingly and falsely billed’ the federal health agencies, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.”
Back in March, we published an article regarding the continuing vitality of the federal False Claims Act. In it, authors Barb Dawson and Daniel Huitink explained how a qui tam plaintiff may step in and sue when they see wrongdoing that affects the public purse. Or, as Dennis Wagner writes, “The False Claims Act contains provisions that allow private citizens to file fraud complaints on behalf of the government and to share in whatever funds are recovered. Under terms of the settlement, Bloink is to receive $5.95 million.”
His article includes commentary from Bloink’s attorney:
“‘This settlement is an extraordinary achievement and confirms once again the essential role that private whistle-blowers and their counsel play in helping our partners in the government to combat health-care fraud,’ David J. Caputo, one of Bloink’s attorneys, said in a written statement.”
Extra points, there, for managing to shoehorn in the value of the whistleblower’s lawyer!
I encourage you to go back and read the article by Barb and Daniel. They give a concise history of what was called “Lincoln’s Law” (named for Abraham Lincoln; you’ll have to read to see why).
More important for possible clients who are potential defendants, read the practice tips our authors provide on how to head off such a lawsuit before it happens. As I read their sage advice, I imagine Carondelet missed the boat in numerous areas.
Just another example of how heeding a good attorney—and purchasing a reasonably priced magazine subscription—can make a world of difference.