Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy 25th Birthday, False Claims Act!

Although it attracted little fanfare when it was passed 25 years ago, the False Claims Act has proven to be a successful weapon in fighting fraud against the government.

The Dept. of Justice will host an event featuring key players in the law's passage, including Senators Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy and Rep. Howard Berman, as well as attorney John R. Phillips, a founding partner of Phillips & Cohen.

"The False Claims Act is a unique statute that has become the go-to law to stop corporations and others from cheating Medicare and other government programs," said attorney Phillips, who worked closely with Congress to secure passage of the amended False Claims Act in 1986.

The passage of the law is also notable as an instance of bipartisan cooperation. As Eric R. Havian, a San Francisco attorney with Phillips & Cohen, noted, "Stopping fraud shouldn't be a partisan issue."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Proposed legislation would gut SEC whistleblower program

A recently introduced House bill has the potential to seriously undermine the effectiveness of the Security & Exchange Commission's new whistleblower program, according to attorneys at Phillips & Cohen LLP, a law firm that has represented whistleblowers for nearly 25 years.

According to the firm's Erika A. Kelton, the Whistleblower Improvement Act would actually discourage whistleblowers because it requires them to report violations to their employer, often the party committing the violation, before going to the SEC.

Eric R. Havian, a San Francisco attorney with Phillips & Cohen believes the current regulations strike the right balance. "To encourage internal reporting, the SEC will give a whistleblower a larger reward if the whistleblower reports the violations to the company's internal compliance program before going to the SEC. But the SEC wisely leaves the decision about internal reporting to the whistleblower, who would know better than anyone whether he or she would suffer retaliation."

The proposed legislation would also eliminate the requirement for a mandatory award and the mandatory minimum award to 10 percent.

The SEC whistleblower program, created in 2010 by Dodd-Frank has resulted in an increase in high-value fraud tips from two dozen a year to one or two a day.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

HHS Inspector General posts training videos

As part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Provider Compliance Training initiative, the Health & Human Services' Inspector General has posted explanatory videos. Videos on the False Claims Act, the Physician Self-Referral Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute are already available. Additional videos will be released over the next several months.