Law enforcement officials arrested 52 people Wednesday in what authorities described as a $100 million Medicare scam. The case grabbed headlines, but other important cases also are in the works. Earlier this month, the Justice Department took the lead in whistleblower cases against Pfizer for illegal marketing. In another case, the government reached a $422.5 million settlement with the U.S. subsidiary of Novart, which faced charges that it illegally marketed an epilepsy drug and paid kickbacks to doctors. And last month, Allergan paid $600 million to settle kickback charges in regard to its Botox drug. To help fight cases like this one, Sen. Bernie Sanders helped put a provision in the new health care law that sharpened a tool prosecutors use to fight fraud.
Working with Sens. Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy, Sanders strengthened the False Claims Act, one of the government’s most effective tools for prosecuting cases involving corporate fraud. Over time, defendants and their high-priced attorneys had weakened the False Claims Act by exploiting unintended loopholes in the law. By working across the aisle, Sanders got a provision in the new health care law closing one of the largest loopholes, known as the public disclosure bar. Because of his efforts, corporations no longer may use a technicality to get fraud cases thrown out of court.