Led by the record-breaking legal settlement with drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, federal collections through the civil False Claims Act exceeded all previous years, topping $4.9 billion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
The one-year tally by the Justice Department included settlements with mortgage lenders and military contractors, but the biggest single chunk—more than $3 billion—came from healthcare companies accused of defrauding Medicare and other government healthcare programs. Fiscal 2012 marked the first time that healthcare tallies topped $3 billion.
The False Claims Act is a Civil War-era federal statute designed to encourage whistle-blowers to file lawsuits when they have insider knowledge of companies defrauding the government. The act was overhauled in 1986, and has since become “the most powerful tool that we have to deter and redress fraud,” Tony West, acting associate attorney general, said in a news conference Tuesday.