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"This is an ongoing fight in which we all have a vested interest. We must continue to monitor those with power and protect those who have the courage to speak out against wrongdoing."
COLUMBIA, SC, January 24, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ -- When whistleblower attorney Bert Louthian looks back at 2017, he said he sees a mixed bag of how our lawmakers have approached whistleblower protections in the United States. As an example, he cites the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Protection Act of 2017.
"On the surface, a bill like the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act seems like a step in the right direction," Louthian said. "Yet, some employees are voicing greater concerns over whistleblower retaliation."
In an article in the Washington Post from October 2017, one doctor was quoted as saying that conditions had not improved for VA workers, voicing a concern held by many whistleblower advocates. Louthian said attorneys and whistleblowers need to be vigilant about changes made to our laws that are cloaked in protection rhetoric.
"Whistleblower protection is vital to the process," Louthian said. "We have to look at how our laws actually affect results and processes. We can't afford to be passive or to accept the rhetoric given to us at face value."
Louthian said that the need for whistleblowers is greater than ever before, and he points toward last year's recoveries as evidence.
"Last fiscal year, the Justice Department recovered over $3.7 billion through the False Claims Act," Louthian said. "That's a drop off of around $1 billion from 2016, but it's still a sizable amount of taxpayer money that was recovered from qui tam lawsuits."
The False Claims Act is the tool whistleblowers use to file qui tam suits, which are lawsuits filed on behalf of the government. Of the $3.7 billion recovered in FY 2017, most of the recoveries came from FCA cases involving the healthcare industry, including drug companies, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories and physicians, according the Justice Department.
As an incentive for whistleblowers to come forward with information that helps investigators recover money lost to fraud, the FCA offers whistleblowers 15 to 30 percent of the recovered amount if the information they provide helps secure a recovery.
In FY 2017, whistleblowers were awarded a total of $392 million for their roles in exposing fraud, abuse and waste against the government.
"The challenges whistleblowers face are not new," Louthian said. "This is an ongoing fight in which we all have a vested interest. We must continue to monitor those with power and protect those who have the courage to speak out against wrongdoing. In the absence of adequate whistleblower protections, fraud will grow, and we will all suffer the consequences."
About Bert Louthian
For over thirty years, Bert Louthian has been practicing law in Columbia, South Carolina, alongside his father, Herb, providing clients with a collective 80 years of legal experience. Since receiving his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina, Bert has been dedicated to helping those who have been wronged or have witnessed wrongdoing so they can come forward safe in the knowledge that they will be provided the best representation possible.
Potential whistleblowers can find out more about filing claims through the False Claims Act by visiting http://www.thewhistleblowerlawyer.com/.
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