The US Department of Health and Human Services announced on December 4, 2020, that a working group was being created to help “enhance the relationship between the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in combating fraud and abuse by identifying and focusing resources on those who seek to defraud American taxpayers.
HHS is responsible for the administration of different programs which require that large amounts of money be paid to private parties. Due to this responsibility, HHS is in a unique position to work with the Department of Justice – to “identify and assess potentially fraudulent activities.”
The working group includes:
- Former private lawyers for healthcare and life science companies
- HHS lawyers who have experienced with the agency’s most vulnerable programs
- Former prosecutors for the Department of Justice
The HHS working group will work to identify possible violations of the False Claims Act which can then be referred to the DOJ and the OIG – who will investigate the violations and prosecute any violations.
The HHS working group will also help the DOJ and OIG (regarding the False Claims Act cases) by providing “HHS’ views on the intricate legal frameworks of the agency’s funding programs.
The need for the three agencies to work together has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. While most private people and organizations that have received HHS funds have used those funds in good faith, there are exceptions.
Two examples of the HHS COVID-19 funding include:
- HHS gave billions of dollars of money for COVID-19 vaccines and therapies – through Operation Warp Speed.
- HHS gave more than $100 billion to health care providers, including many of the front lines – through its Provider Relief Fund.
The HHS working group will provide training to its programs which are most vulnerable to abuse and fraud – which will help HHS lawyers “better detect and refer potential false claims to DOJ and OIG.” The working group will also focus on legal requirements and recommendations about alleged violations. The group will “be a conduit to the more than 600 subject-matter attorneys within HHS and their agency clients, who have expertise in HHS’ funding programs.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that fraud means that necessary funds aren’t being used for the public – including the fight against COVID-19.
At the California Law Offices of Stephen A. Danz and Associates, our False Claims Act lawyers understand the many types of healthcare fraud. We help whistleblowers file claims with the DOJ to expose fraud in return for a percentage of any recovery. To discuss any False Claims Act case, please call us at 877-789-9707 or use our online contact form to make an appointment. Se Habla Espanol.