Yesterday, the DOJ issued an interim rule that will nearly double the penalties for False Claims Act violations. Under the current law, civil monetary fines for False Claims Act Violations are $5,500 to $11,000 per claim, plus an additional fine up to three times the amount of damages sustained by the government. Under the new rule, the maximum penalty per claim would nearly double, from $11,000 to $21,563, per claim. The minimum fine will also nearly double, from $5,5000 to $10,781, per claim. Criminal sentences for False Claims Act violations will remain the same; up to 5 years in prison per claim, and up to life in prison for multiple counts.
The new rule is set to go into effect on August 1, 2016 and will affect claims after November 2, 2015.
The DOJ last increased the civil monetary penalties for False Claims Act violations in 1999. The new adjustment is said to be based on inflation and aims to deter false claims from being submitted to the government for payment.
The increase in civil monetary fines for False Claims Act violations is just another step the government has taken in its pursuit to prosecute health care fraud. In 2009, the government created the HEAT task force, charged with investigating and prosecuting Medicare fraud. Since then, many health care providers have found themselves subject to audits, raids and criminal charges for alleged Medicare fraud.
The increase in penalties should not deter providers from participating in federal health care programs. It should, however, remind providers that they need to take steps to ensure compliance with the many state and federal laws that regulate the health care industry.
Chapman Law Group has been dedicated to the defense of health care providers for over 25 years. We currently represent providers in Michigan (Detroit) and Florida (Miami area/Tampa area/Jacksonville/Pensacola/Gainesville) who are accused of False Claims Act violations. Our attorneys fight aggressively to help health care providers accused of health care fraud maintain their freedom and ability to practice. We also provide self-audit assistance and best practices guidelines for avoiding allegations related to False Claim, Anti-Kickback, Stark, and failure to comply with CMS conditions. We have over 10 attorneys dedicated to health care law and the defense of health care providers and those working in the health care industry.