You are considering becoming a whistleblower. You know the home health care company you work for is committing Medicare fraud by overbilling and you feel compelled to report it. You decide to do a little research about whistleblower laws and come across an unfamiliar legal term: qui tam. What does that mean? What is a qui tam lawsuit?
Qui tam lawsuits
The word qui tam literally means “in the name of the king.” Through the False Claims Act, individuals with evidence that an entity is committing fraud against the government can file a qui tam lawsuit on the government’s behalf. The person who files a qui tam lawsuit even can receive a portion of the damages recovered in a qui tam lawsuit.
What actions may prompt a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act?
Some of the actions that could lead to a qui tam lawsuit because of the False Claims Act include the following:
- Seeking a government contract fraudulently
- Seeking payment from the government for goods or services that weren’t provided
- Seeking compensation for a claim where the defendant didn’t comply with the law, contract or regulation
- Conspiring with others when making false claims
- Giving information you know is false about a claim
What should I do about knowledge of fraud?
If you are uncertain if you should become a whistleblower against your employer, you may want to consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney can advise you if you should consider filing a qui tam action under the False Claims Act and help you understand what legal protections you can receive as a whistleblower.
You may feel frightened about exposing your employer’s fraud against the government. Yet, you want to do what is right and not waste taxpayer dollars because of fraudulent claims. That’s why it’s important to understand how whistleblower protection works and how whistleblowers even can benefit from providing evidence of fraud in government programs.