October 1999 Bulletin

GAO hits DOJ on handling of False Claims Act

The General Accounting Office (GAO) has criticized the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the way it has handled the guidance that the department issued in June 1998 to prevent overzealous application of the False Claims Act.

"The False Claims Act is one of the most important weapons in the fight against health care fraud," said the GAO in a report to Congress. "As with all enforcement tools, it is important that the law be fairly applied."

GAO said U.S. Attorney's offices' compliance with the guidance, as applied to four hospital initiatives, "may be superficial." The U.S. Attorney's assessments of compliance with the guidance "appear to involve little more than reviewers asking supervisors what they have done to ensure compliance with the guidance," GAO said. The agency found implementation of DOJ's guidance was varied among eight U.S. Attorney's offices that were visited.

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