The Healthcare Sector’s Awareness of Whistleblowers

Below is an excerpt of an interview with a healthcare fraud whistleblower attorney, as he discusses the policies that healthcare companies have on whistleblowers.

Is The Healthcare Sector Wary of Whistleblowers?

Some providers are. We are seeing more awareness by major healthcare companies and to be fair, we are seeing some efforts by some healthcare companies to clean up their act, but there is awareness now.

You know the Anti-Kickback statute has gotten a lot of people aware of the business reasons why they have to be careful with respect to how they refer business one way or the other. There is certainly an ongoing situation in terms of following Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations. The CMS are the people that administer Medicare and set down all kinds of regulations under which the government program funding is administered through Medicare and Medicaid for services. So I think there is greater awareness now certainly than there was when I started doing these types of cases that whistleblowers are out there and may have a right to file a case. Of course, I hear only about the worst cases and I’m sure that is not truly representative of health care in general.

Do Healthcare Companies Have Policies on Whistleblowers?

There are certainly companies that have that, and whether they follow them or not when push comes to shove is another issue, but there are certainly companies that have whistleblower policies. There are also certain companies that have to have codes of business conduct to allow for reporting a fraud and to report the fraud to the government but that doesn’t mean that an employee is always 100% in a great position to report fraud internally. Quite to the contrary, usually internal policies on whistle blowing rarely protect the whistleblower in that company. Many companies do have policies for whistleblowers and some actually protect the whistleblowers.

What Are Alternatives to Filing a Whistleblower Case in Healthcare Sector?

Well of course a whistleblower could just do nothing, but I guess then that person wouldn’t be a whistleblower. So, you know, there are all kinds of government offices you can report to if you don’t want to file a case.

That may be the most sensible thing to do under certain circumstances if you have got a case that involves a major safety issue but doesn’t really seem to work out as a False Claims Act case for whatever reason and it may make sense to report to the Attorney General’s Office or you know any number of other offices that handle reports on safety, licensing bureaus.

There is a whole, set of government offices out there that listen to complaints all the time. I think that the smart thing to do is to talk to a lawyer when you figure out what is the problem at work and see just what the scope is of the problem at work and determine what to do about it that way.