The False Claims Act (FCA) has become an enforcement cash cow generating billions of dollars for the federal government each year. But FY 2020 was a tough year. Between the pandemic and sequestration of enforcement funds, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was able to recover only $2.25 billion, the lowest total in a decade. But there’s no need to worry. According to a new report, the DOJ raked in $5.6 billion in FCA settlements and judgments in 2021, the second largest total since the government started tracking the recovery numbers.
Although the FCA covers all federal contractors, the health care industry almost always supplies the lion’s share of the money. Last year was no exception, with health care providers paying $5.1 billion, or 90 percent, of total FCA recoveries. As you’d also expect based on historical patterns, labs figured prominently in 2021 recoveries, particularly those that perform urine drug testing.
But the one thing that is surprising about this year’s statistics is in regard to types of recovery. Historically, roughly $2 of every $3 recovered in a given year comes from qui tam cases. But of the $5.65 billion of total recoveries in 2021, only $1.71 billion came from qui tam actions. Of course, the half-full side to this half-empty phenomenon is the dramatic increase in DOJ recoveries independent of qui tam whistleblowers’ assistance.