Trade Agreements Act Enforcement Loses a Couple More Teeth

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

Two recent judicial decisions involving the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”) build on a trend reflecting a more favorable enforcement climate for contractors grappling with domestic preference regimes. Earlier this year, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a qui tam action that alleged fraud in connection with country of origin requirements imposed by the TAA. United States ex rel. Folliard v. Comstor Corp., 308 F.Supp.3d 56 (D.D.C. 2018) (finding the relator failed to adequately plead that the alleged TAA noncompliance was “material” to the Government’s payment decision). The decision marked a welcome early defeat of a False Claims Act case based on the enhanced materiality and scienter requirements of the Escobar decision (as we wrote about here).

Two recent federal court decisions appear to extend the trend of taking some of the bite out of TAA enforcement, and potential exposure for alleged noncompliance. Despite this welcome news, domestic preference programs remain a key legal obligation for government contractors (and an area likely to remain under scrutiny with the Administration’s professed focus on Buy American and Hire American initiatives). Continue reading “Trade Agreements Act Enforcement Loses a Couple More Teeth”

Trade Agreements Act Compliance: Some Welcome News for Some Federal Contractors, But Will It Last?

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a qui tam action involving allegations of fraud in connection with country of origin requirements imposed by the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”). United States ex rel. Folliard v. Comstor Corp., 308 F.Supp.3d 56 (D.D.C. 2018).

Comstor involved a False Claims Act (“FCA”) action filed by a serial whistleblower who alleged two contractors violated the FCA by selling non-TAA compliant products on their General Services Administration (“GSA”) Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contracts to federal government customers. Depending on the dollar value of the acquisition, most procurements are subject to either the Buy American Act (“BAA”) or TAA. Currently (2018), the BAA applies to supply procurements valued at or below $180,000. Accordingly, the TAA currently applies to such procurements valued in excess of $180,000. GSA has determined the TAA applies to FSS contracts. Continue reading “Trade Agreements Act Compliance: Some Welcome News for Some Federal Contractors, But Will It Last?”

The Government’s Use of Data Analytics to Identify Healthcare Fraud

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

No one knows exactly how much fraudulent conduct costs the United States healthcare system. Some suggest it may cost Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers $100 billion each year. Regardless of the exact amount, everyone agrees that the fraudulent activities result in more expensive healthcare and possibly the deprivation of healthcare for some.

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and agency inspectors general have recovered billions of dollars based upon demonstrated or alleged healthcare fraud. These cases and investigations, however, have generally been limited to a specific company or class of providers. Government investigators have struggled for years with how to identify fraudulent practices in government healthcare programs involving large volumes of claims. Continue reading “The Government’s Use of Data Analytics to Identify Healthcare Fraud”

Another Banner Year for False Claims Act Recoveries Signals More of the Same for 2018

Justin A. Chiarodo and Sara N. Gerber

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) reported $3.7 billion in False Claims Act (“FCA”) settlements and judgments for fiscal year 2017, the 8th straight year of 3-plus-billion-dollar recoveries and 700-plus new cases filed. Healthcare, mortgage, and procurement fraud once again dominated recoveries. This article analyzes DOJ’s FCA statistics, and includes our predictions for continued strong enforcement in 2018. Continue reading “Another Banner Year for False Claims Act Recoveries Signals More of the Same for 2018”

Disaster Relief Contracting: How to Avoid the Pitfalls

Justin A. Chiarodo and Stephanie M. Harden

Hurricane Harvey’s damage to Texas and other areas is virtually unprecedented and is already estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars. And Hurricane Irma, hurtling towards Florida, could likewise cause catastrophic damage. Though every disaster presents unique recovery challenges, a common theme in disaster relief efforts is the key role of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (“FEMA”) and a federal law known as the Stafford Act. Contractors eager to assist with relief and rebuilding efforts should pay close attention to the legal landscape underpinning the public funding behind disaster relief efforts, particularly given the scrutiny these efforts will receive in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Continue reading “Disaster Relief Contracting: How to Avoid the Pitfalls”

Targeting Generic Drug Prices

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.James R. Staiger, and Jennifer J. Daniels

For years, states and the federal government focused their drug pricing enforcement efforts on higher priced and more expensive branded drugs. Not surprisingly, private qui tam lawyers followed on the coattails of these government enforcement efforts. The focus on branded drugs was not wrongheaded. States, the federal government, and qui tam plaintiffs were handsomely rewarded for such efforts, as in the multiple Average Wholesale Price (“AWP”) cases against brand manufacturers. However, while regulators focused on brands, they subsequently found that the pricing for generic drugs had increased unimpeded. In more recent years, the focus has shifted to generic drug price increases. For example, effective for the first time at the start of 2017, the Medicaid Program applied an inflation penalty component to Medicaid rebate payments for generic drugs. Historically, the inflation penalty applied only to branded drugs. The inflation penalty provides that when a drug’s price increases faster than the increases in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, a manufacturer is required to pay an additional Medicaid rebate amount to state Medicaid programs. Continue reading “Targeting Generic Drug Prices”

DOJ’s New Healthcare Fraud Target—Medicare Advantage Insurers

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

The government continues to seek ways to rein in healthcare costs. Now it has set its sights on the Medicare Advantage Program. Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you still have Medicare, but you get your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage from the Medicare Advantage Plan and not original Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans may also offer extra coverage like dental, vision, hearing, and wellness programs. Continue reading “DOJ’s New Healthcare Fraud Target—Medicare Advantage Insurers”