Thursday, November 7, 2013

Florida Company to Pay $3M in Latest False Claims Settlement for Hospice Providers

According to a November 4th Justice Department release, Hospice of the Comforter, Inc. (HOTCI), a company based in Florida, has agreed to pay $3 million to resolve claims it submitted false claims for services covered by Medicare for hospice patients.  The company also has issued a statement regarding the settlement, linked on its home webpage.

The report on HOTCI is the latest in a series of settlements or agreements related to whistleblower allegations of Medicare fraud in the hospice industry.  In addition to payments to be made over a period of years, the Justice Department reports that HOTCI has entered into to a "corporate integrity agreement" with the Inspector General for Health and Human Services.  Further, "HOTCI’s former Chief Executive Officer Robert Wilson has agreed to a three-year, voluntary exclusion from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care programs," according to the Justice Department release. 

The original whistleblower in the HOTCI case, a former executive, reportedly objected to the $3 million settlement, calling it unreasonably low. 

On the one hand, settlements are sometimes criticized as sending the wrong message, arguing agreements to pay comparatively low figues act as a cost of doing business in otherwise still profitable industries, such as the hospice industry. On the other hand, whistleblowers under the False Claims Act stand to recover a percentage of the amounts recovered in the cases. 

Other recently reported settlements with hospice providers:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/elder_law/2013/11/florida-company-to-pay-3m-in-latest-false-claims-settlement-for-hospice-providers.html

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