Author: Alex Hontos

Alex Hontos

Alex is accomplished in Federal procurement law and government contracting, including the Federal Acquisition Regulations and the Contract Disputes Act; Federal civil-fraud provisions, including the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Act; and the specialized rules that govern claims against the United States, including bid protests.

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False Claims Act Exposure for Beneficiaries of the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Relief Fund: Mitigating Risks of Ambiguous Terms & Conditions

Alex Hontos

I. Introduction The CARES Act allocated $100 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other healthcare providers, to be distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Relief Fund (or “Provider Relief Fund”). Many healthcare providers across the country have received payments from the Fund, beginning with an initial tranche of $30 billion distributed in...

Looking Ahead: Enforcement Actions for Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Related to COVID-19

Alex Hontos

As the public health and economic responses to COVID-19 dominate the headlines and traditional government enforcement actions slow, anticipate a significant increase in government enforcement actions, internal investigations related to corporate fraud, and qui tam (whistleblower) actions in the coming months.  The CARES Act contains appropriations for tens of millions of dollars for agency inspector general enforcement.  Leaders in federal law enforcement are telling us...

Justice Department Touts FY2019 False Claims Act Statistics as Evidence of Administration’s “High Priority” Against Fraud, but the Numbers Show Less of a Priority on Qui Tams

Alex Hontos

Earlier this month, the United States Department of Justice issued a press release to announce recoveries of over $3 billion from False Claims Act cases in FY2019. In making the announcement, Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Civil Division emphasized, “The significant number of settlements and judgments obtained over the past year demonstrate the high priority this administration places on deterring fraud against the...

Dorsey Alert: HHS Regulatory Sprint May Impact FCA Enforcement Trends

Alex Hontos

The False Claims Act (“FCA”) is an ever-present concern among health care providers and counsel, which is why it is no surprise that the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) recent “Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care” may impact FCA enforcement trends.  Dorsey’s Health Law Blog team has been closely monitoring the “Regulatory Sprint,” including the sweeping set of proposed regulations issued by the HHS...

False Claims Act: New Developments for an Old Law

Alex Hontos

The past 18 months have been a (relatively) wild time for the False Claims Act — on the books since 1863. In FY2018 the Department of Justice obtained more than $2.8 billion in settlements and judgments from cases involving fraud and false claims against the United States government. Add to this staggering statistic the fallout of the Supreme Court’s decision in Universal Health Services Inc....

Supreme Court Settles Circuit Split and Reads the False Claims Act Statute of Limitations Provision Broadly in Boon to Relators

Alex Hontos

On May 13, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt, No. 18–325, and resolved a circuit split regarding the statute of limitations for an FCA claim brought by a relator between six and ten years after a violation, but less than three years after the government knew or should have known the relevant facts. The Court held...

DOJ Levels False Claims Act at Pharmacies to Combat Opioid Crisis

Alex Hontos

This month the Department of Justice brought a “first of its kind” action against two pharmacies, their owner, and three pharmacists for allegedly dispensing and billing Medicare for prescriptions in violation of both the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the False Claims Act (FCA).  See United States v. Oakley Pharmacy, Inc., et al., No. 2:19-cv-00009 (M.D. Tenn).  The action, seeking both injunctive relief and civil...

For FY2018, Justice Department Touts Nearly $3 Billion in False Claims Act Recoveries, Mostly From Qui Tams and Alleged Healthcare Frauds

Alex Hontos

The Justice Department announced in a recent press release that it obtained more than $2.8 billion in settlements and judgments from cases involving fraud and false claims against the government. The vast majority of this amount—$2.1 billion—came from lawsuits filed by whistleblowers, or “relators” suing on behalf of the government, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claim Act (“FCA”). Included in the qui...

Two Recent Justice Department Memoranda May Have Significant Consequences for Pending and Future False Claims Act Enforcement

Alex Hontos

In recent weeks, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued two memoranda that might change the calculus of False Claims Act (“FCA”) cases.  The memoranda at a minimum provide organizations with new—or at least invigorated—defenses to qui tam actions and civil enforcement matters. First, on January 10, Michael Granston, Director of DOJ’s Civil Frauds section, issued a memorandum encouraging DOJ trial attorneys to consider dismissing...

Consultant Guilty of Illegal Kickbacks By “Referring” Doctors’ Patients to Another Medical Provider in Exchange for Remuneration

Alex Hontos

Under 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b)(1)(A) it is a felony for a physician to solicit or receive a kickback “in return for referring” a Medicaid or Medicare patient to another medical provider. But as a recent decision by the Eighth Circuit in United States v. Iqbal demonstrates, physicians are not the only ones capable of making illegal referrals under the statute—consultants can, too. Defendant Iqbal was a...