DoD Strengthens Whistleblower Protections for Employees of Contractors

On November 19, 2009, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued an interim rule implementing the whistleblower protection provisions of the National Defense Authorization Acts for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009.   The rule clarifies the scope of protected conduct, sets forth procedures governing Inspector General investigations, and clarifies the removal provision under which a whistleblower can obtain de novo review in federal district court.

For information on The Employment Law Group® law firm’s Whistleblower Practice, click here.

Health Care Fraud Enforcement Act of 2009 Introduced to Senate Committee

On October 28, 2009 the Health Care Fraud Enforcement Act of 2009 (S. 1959) was introduced to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.  If passed, the bill would aid the government in prosecuting health care fraud and provide stiffer penalties for cases that involve a loss of over $1 million. 

In addition to increasing the criminal penalties, the bill would lower the mens rea requirement of the existing health care fraud statute (18 U.S.C. 1347).  Under this bill “a person need not have actual knowledge of this section or specific intent to commit a violation of this section.”  The purpose of this amendment is to facilitate claims brought against medical facilities under the False Claims Act.  According to the bill’s sponsors, there have been cases where the government was unable to recoup when a hospital was unaware that claims submitted by doctors were false.  This amendment would empower the government to pursue more claims.  The bill also increases the situations in which the Department of Justice can issue subpoenas.

Perhaps most importantly, the bill provides an additional $20 million to the Attorney General each year from 2011 through 2016.  $10 million is to provide for the offices of the United States attorneys, and $5 million each for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice and Civil Division of the Department of Justice.  Powerful legislation does little without the man power and resources to enforce it.  For information on The Employment Law Group® law firm’s False Claims Act Practice, click here