The ever-increasing costs of healthcare and access to needed medical treatment for people who have serious medical issues have been hot-button topics across the country for many years. The Department of Justice has joined two lawsuits that were originally filed by whistleblowers. The lawsuits say that UnitedHealth Group inflated risk scores for patients enrolled in the insurer's Medicare Advantage program. Sources say that damages in the cases could exceed $1 billion - that is taxpayer money.
The high cost of health care has been a hot topic in the media, at the water cooler and in homes throughout the Milwaukee area for some time now. Some people who work in the health care industry may feel the need to defend the industry during these public debates. At the same time, however, health care fraud has cost taxpayers an exorbitant amount of money. The Department of Justice (DOJ) says that since January 2009 the agency has recovered nearly $20 billion, thanks in large part to whistleblowers who have come forward with evidence of fraud against federal health care programs.
Some readers of our Milwaukee employment law blog might sleep better tonight after reading about a recent whistleblower settlement. The $2.6 million agreement resolves allegations of Medicare fraud in a False Claims Act lawsuit filed against the owners of a chain of sleep clinics.
As lives wind down, some people require assistance with everyday tasks. One of the companies that caters to the growing population needing skilled nursing assistance is Life Care Centers of America Inc.
The fight to stop wrongdoing in the workplace is ongoing. In far too many cases, sex discrimination takes place, in which one gender is preferred by an employer or manager over the other. In still other cases, an employer will retaliate against a worker courageous enough to step forward and point out problems.
Back before modern communications systems made conversations between operators of one train and operators of another as simple as picking up a phone, signals were sent back and forth with blasts on the trains' whistles. Variations in whistle patterns meant different things to nearby railroad workers, drivers of motor vehicles and engineers on other trains.
To some, the term whistleblower brings up negative connotations. If you were to compare whistleblowers to a "rat" in a mafia movie, that would be a false equivalency. Whistleblowers provide a crucial service in the world of business and employment, ensuring that companies and even individual employees don't misappropriate their power or positions for illegal or nefarious means.
It's only about 171 miles in a straight line from Milwaukee to Lansing, Michigan. Of course, there's a fairly substantial body of water (and a bit of land) in between the two cities. Regardless of how you get there, Lansing is the capital of Michigan. As such, it's ground zero for the affair between two Michigan legislators and their botched cover-up that garnered national attention last year. A pair of aides to former representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser recently had their whistleblower lawsuits reinstated by a federal judge, according to media reports.
It happens in Milwaukee and it happens in cities and towns across the nation as well. When people blow the whistle on improper or illegal behavior in the workplace, they are often subjected to retaliation by supervisors and employers; retaliation that is expressly prohibited by law.
It is a rare sight these days to see members of the Democratic Party working with members of the Republican Party. While a tumultuous presidential election campaign is underway, a handful of Republicans and Democrats have found an issue on which they have some common ground: Whistleblowers.