Each December, some of the nation’s top health care lawyers gather to discuss developments in prosecuting and defending health care fraud cases at the Health Care Fraud Institute in Atlanta. Because the qui tam law–the False Claims Act– is the government’s primary civil tool to combat fraud and false claims, the False Claims Act developments are a highlight of the discussion.
This year, I was honored again to be invited to participate as part of the False Claims Act panel with Rick Shackelford, an accomplished defense lawyer at King & Spalding, LLP; Marlan Wilbanks, my colleague; and our excellent moderator, Jim Breen.
One of the major developments we focused on was the increasing number of cases in which the Justice Department relies on private attorneys representing whistleblowers (“relators”) to litigate cases, since the government has limited resources.
This practice allows the government to leverage its resources in the “public-private partnership” model that Congress intended to make the law more successful. governmentrmment either works alongside private counsel, or has private attorneys take the lead in cases that the government declines initially. When private counsel is successful, the government often intervenes later to conclude the case.
Joe Whitley of Greenburg Traurig and Paul Murphy of King and Spalding organized the program, which also included insights from government counsel.