Whistleblowers can file qui tam lawsuits to report Medicare fraud in order to help the government recover funds improperly paid out as part of a scam. These whistleblowers are rewarded when the government recovers fraudulently spent taxpayer money. Specifically, whistleblowers receive a portion of recovered funds. In certain cases, when the fraud is significant, a whistleblower can receive millions of dollars.
While there is a strong financial incentive for individuals to come forward and report Medicare fraud, there's an even more important reason to speak up. By bringing fraud to the attention of the public and the attention of lawmakers, a whistleblower's actions could save lives. Medicare fraud does more than just cost the government money. It can result in people receiving unnecessary or dangerous treatments and can even put the health of patients in serious jeopardy. One recent case reported by CNN, involved a cancer doctor who administered more than 2,000 unnecessary chemotherapy treatments. This shows the tremendous cost of Medicare fraud on people's lives.
Medicare Fraud Can Be Deadly
Dr. Farad Fata pled guilty to 13 counts of healthcare fraud, as well as other criminal charges. Dr. Fata committed egregious fraud against 553 patients and collected almost $18 million in Medicare money for treatments that were not necessary. The doctor told people they had cancer, even though they did not. The doctor also subjected people who did have cancer to significantly more chemotherapy treatments than were medically required to address their alleged health issues. All of this was done to collect more Medicare money than the doctor should have been receiving.
The fraud went on for years, taking a tremendous toll in terms of government Medicare funding but also costing people their health and their lives. Ultimately, it was a whistleblower who put a stop to Dr. Fata's abusive and illegal practices. ABC News reported that an officer manager in Dr. Fata's office came forward and told the government what the doctor was doing and demonstrated how many other staff members had helped him to conceal his crimes.
Because of this brave whistleblower's actions, the government recovered some of the funds inappropriately paid out for unnecessary medical treatments. The doctor will also no longer intentionally cause harm by misdiagnosing patients. The 50-year-old physician was sentenced to 45 years in prison, far more than the 25 years his defense was asking for, but less than the 175 years of incarceration sought by prosecutors. The physician will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, especially because he has hypertension and diabetes.
Patients affected by Dr. Fata's Medicare fraud spoke at his sentencing. One woman described how her father, who had passed away under Dr. Fata's care, was tortured by unnecessary chemotherapy. Others said they have developed cancer, will have to take medication for the rest of their lives, have lost all their teeth, and suffer from chronic pain because of the misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatments.
Chemotherapy is a very harsh treatment which should never be administered on healthy people. That's because chemotherapy kills healthy cells. The patients subjected to Dr. Fata's horrific, fraudulent treatments were used by the doctor simply as a way to make money. Fortunately, there will be no more new victims, thanks to the courage of one, brave whistleblower.