On December 21, 2018, the Civil Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it recovered over US$2.8 billion from civil False Claims Act (FCA) judgments and settlements in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. This was DOJ’s lowest annual FCA recovery since FY2009, and the second straight year of falling FCA recoveries, down from US$3.5 billion in FY2017 and US$4.9 billion in FY2016. Our analysis of DOJ’s raw data suggests this year’s drop stems from a sharp dip in recoveries for non-healthcare cases. Meanwhile, healthcare-related cases continued to dominate the FCA docket, accounting for two-thirds of all new FY2018 filings and 87 percent of all FY2018 recoveries (US$2.5 billion)—the highest proportion of total recoveries ever. FY2018 is also the ninth consecutive year to see over US$2 billion in healthcare-related recoveries.
Yet the overall number of new FCA matters fell for the second year in a row: only 767 new matters were brought in FY2018, down from 825 last year and 856 the year before. The decline is due largely to a 10 percent drop in healthcare cases filed by private qui tam relators since last year. The reasons for this decline remain unclear, given that the relators’ bar is not bound by DOJ’s enforcement priorities.