Two federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lexington received distinguished national honors for their work in helping to reclaim about $1 billion in taxpayer money last year.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder presented the Exceptional Service Award to Robin Gwinn and Cheryl Morgan in Washington, D.C., earlier this week for their efforts to help the government reach the largest health-care settlement in Department of Justice's history. The award was the highest recognition at the Attorney General's annual award ceremony, according to a news release.
In September 2009, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer agreed to pay the government $2.3 billion for illegally marketing drugs to doctors in Kentucky's Eastern District and other states nationwide. The settlement will return nearly $1 billion to Medicare and Medicaid, the release said.
The case was initiated by several whistle-blowers, including one in Eastern Kentucky who alerted authorities of the illegal marketing through the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act encourages health-care workers to report fraud to the government so it can pursue that fraud and save taxpayer money.
It's estimated that $68 billion is lost annually in health-care fraud.
About 1.5 million Kentuckians receive either Medicare or Medicaid.