Budget Committee Endorses Grassley ResolutionIowa Senator Seeks to Protect Medicare Dollars from Fraud
Grassley's sense of the Senate resolution was accepted by the Senate Budget committee, which is working on the blueprint for federal spending in the next fiscal year.
"Along with investing in the nation's health care program for the elderly, we need to make sure that everything possible is done to cut down on fraudulent and criminal activities by contractors and health care providers. Every dollar lost to fraud is a dollar that doesn't go to health care for Medicare beneficiaries," Grassley said.
Grassley's resolution specifically supports the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows private citizens who know about fraud to sue companies on the government's behalf and entitles the government to recover three times its losses. To date, the qui tam provisions have recovered $3.5 billion for the U.S. Treasury that otherwise would have been lost to fraud. The consequences of these whistleblower lawsuits also serve as an effective deterrent, according to the Justice Department.
Grassley said he offered this resolution today to send a message to the defense and health care industries that the U.S. Senate recognizes the importance of the qui tam provisions. Over the years, government contractors have lobbied to eliminate or severely weaken these whistleblower provisions.
Grassley was the principal Senate author of these provisions when they were adopted in 1986 to update the Civil War-era False Claims Act. While the initiative targeted defense contractor fraud during the 1980s, during the last decade the qui tam provisions have proven to be one of the government's best weapons against health care fraud. In January, the qui tam provisions resulted in a $486 million settlement with a national chain of kidney dialysis centers in response to allegations that Medicare had been charged for hundreds of thousands of needless medical tests and lab procedures and paid illegal kick-backs to obtain referrals of lab business.