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Assistant Attorney General Tony West’s Remarks on FY 2010 False Claims Act Recoveries
Posted By Main Justice staff On November 22, 2010 @ 12:55 pm In News | Comments Disabled
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CIV
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2010
REMARKS AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY BY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE CIVIL DIVISION
TONY WEST AT THE PEN AND PAD BRIEFING ON CIVIL FRAUD RECOVERIES
Thank you all for coming. My name is Tony West, and I’m the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. In that capacity, I oversee much of the Federal Government’s civil litigation across the country—that includes national security cases like GTMO habeas and state secrets; consumer protection cases like mortgage fraud; and cases to recapture billions of taxpayers’ dollars lost to fraud, waste, and abuse.
Today, I want to announce an important milestone of success in our fight against fraud on the taxpayers using one of our most successful civil enforcement tools, the False Claims Act: This past year – fiscal year 2010, that ended on September 30 – marked the largest health care fraud recovery under the False Claims Act in a single year ever – $2.5 billion. Overall, the Civil Division and the United States Attorneys have recovered $3 billion for the American taxpayer — money that otherwise would have padded the bank accounts of defendants who sought profit over quality, reasonably-priced health care; or profiteering from the wars in Southwest Asia; or personal gain over supporting law enforcement with the best protection money could buy.
In fact, since January 2009, when this Administration took office, the Civil Division, together with the U.S. Attorneys’ offices, has recovered $5.4 billion in funds secured through fraud and false claims – the largest two-year recovery of taxpayer dollars in the history of the Justice Department.
Nowhere is this more apparent than our success in fighting health care fraud. Since January 2009, we have opened more health care fraud cases, secured larger fines and judgments and recovered more taxpayer dollars lost to health care fraud than in any other two-year period — $4.6 billion. And that doesn’t even include the work of the Civil Division’s Office of Consumer Litigation, which pursues both criminal as well as civil health care fraud violations under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Their efforts have yielded another $3 billion since January 2009 in criminal fines, forfeitures and penalties with over half of that coming in this past fiscal year.
As you know, fighting health care fraud has been a top priority for the President, the Attorney General and for me here in the Civil Division. A year ago in May the Attorney General and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced HEAT, the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, to increase coordination between DOJ and HHS and optimize criminal and civil enforcement. And that effort has obviously paid off.
Now, in the FY 2010 numbers we’re announcing today, you’ll see a variety of cases. There are the big pharma cases – matters like our off-label drug marketing settlement with Pfizer announced near the beginning of the fiscal year, where we recovered $669 million in federal health care funds, as well as additional amounts not included in our FY2010 numbers, like the $331 million returned to state Medicaid programs as a part of that case, or the $1.3 billion in criminal fines and forfeitures we also recovered from Pfizer, which all together make it the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history.
Or the AstraZeneca settlement, another off-label drug marketing case that recovered over $300 million in federal taxpayer dollars, plus another $218 million returned to state Medicaid programs.
But in addition to those mega-cases, there are other cases in the numbers that go to the heart of why it’s so important to be aggressive in this fight against fraud. Cases like those involving the supplies of goods and services to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In FY2010, we recovered over $10 million in taxpayer funds in connection with procurement fraud involving the wars in Southwest Asia.
Or cases like those we’ve brought against companies and individuals involved in the sale of defective bulletproof vests – we believe knowingly – to the federal government and to state, local and tribal law enforcement organizations that were reimbursed by the federal government, putting the people who protect us in harm’s way.
Or cases that go to the heart of providing quality care to our most vulnerable citizens – the Small Smiles case, where our investigation found that dentists were performing unnecessary tooth extractions or excessive baby root canals on children who were Medicaid patients. Or the Omnicare matter, where we found that the company solicited and received kickbacks from pharmaceutical manufacturers to recommend the use of their drugs to elderly patients in nursing homes, including powerful antipsychotic drugs used to control their behavior.
In those FY2010 there are cases against individual doctors who are neither qualified nor competent to perform complex medical procedures but do so in order to maximize billing against government health care programs; financial fraud cases involving mortgage fraud and economic stimulus funds; even a case where an oil and gas company committed fraud by undervaluing the minerals it extracted from federal and Indian lands—cases that illustrate that it’s not just about taxpayers who are cheated but about the quality of care we provide through Medicare and Medicaid; the integrity of the products we provide to those who protect us; and the fairness of our government programs.
These cases wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the many Civil Division lawyers, U.S. Attorneys, investigators, auditors, and other public servants who investigate and prosecute these cases. We also have to thank the whistleblowers who often risk their careers to bring allegations of fraud to the Government’s attention through the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. This past year, whistleblowers’ qui tam suits accounted for more than $2.3 billion of the $3 billion recovered.
I also want to thank Congress for strengthening the False Claims Act – the Government’s foremost weapon in the fight against fraud. In particular, I want to thank Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, and Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Howard Berman for their support of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009. This important legislation amended the False Claims Act and other fraud statutes in significant ways to meet the challenges of evermore sophisticated fraud schemes in a complicated global economy.
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