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Government Puts Out the Call for Antitrust Healthcare Whistleblowers

Posted  April 19, 2024

The government is looking for whistleblowers with inside information of anticompetitive conduct in the healthcare markets.  This comes from DOJ’s announcement yesterday (April 18), in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), of the government’s launch of “an easily accessible online portal for the public to report health care practices that may harm competition.”

As DOJ explains it, the online portal — called HealthyCompetition.gov — provides a confidential channel for the public to report “potentially unfair and anticompetitive health care practices” to DOJ’s Antitrust Division and the FTC.  In promoting this new whistleblower channel, DOJ specifically points to the Biden Administration’s efforts to lower health care and prescription drug costs through competition.

The high-ups in each of the participating agencies trumpeted the significance of the new program and the role they hope it will play in increasing the quality and affordability of healthcare in this country:

  • Competition in health care is crucial to ensuring fair and competitive wages across the healthcare sector and affordable and quality healthcare for all Americans.  Today’s launch . . . will allow the agencies to collaborate early and often, helping to promote economic opportunity and fairness for all.  [DOJ Antitrust Chief Jonathan Kanter]
  • All too often, we hear how unfair methods of competition and monopolistic practices may be depriving Americans of access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.  This joint initiative . . . will provide a crucial channel for the agencies to hear from the public, bolstering our work to check illegal business practices that harm consumers and workers alike.  [FTC Chair Lina Khan]
  • Americans depend on competitive health care markets to provide quality choices and lower costs for coverage.  That’s why we are working to tackle anticompetitive practices in the health care markets. . . .  The information provided by the public will help to root out these behaviors.  [HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra]

How well this new program will be received by the public remains to be seen.  Unlike the False Claims Act, the government’s primary fraud-fighting tool, this newly-launched program does not provide any financial incentives for the public to participate.  Nor does it provide any vehicle for the whistleblower to take action if the government does nothing in response to the whistleblower complaints.  The False Claims Act allows for both, providing whistleblowers the authority to bring lawsuits on the government’s behalf and to recover a sizeable portion of any resulting government recovery.

Time will tell if this new program can succeed without these additional attributes which have made the False Claims Act the lynchpin of the American whistleblower system, resulting in tens of billions of dollars in government recoveries over the past twenty years.  In the meantime, if you would like more information on the False Claims Act or any of the government’s other whistleblower rewards programs, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consult with a member of Constantine Cannon’s experienced whistleblower team.