Florida Hospice Provider to Pay $3 Million in Whistleblower Suit

A Orlando, Florida hospice company will pay $3 million to settle allegations over providing services under Medicare who were not terminally ill.

Hospice of the Comforter Inc. has agreed to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act in its submission of Medicare claims for hospice services, according to the Department of Justice. The services were provided to patients who were not eligible for hospice benefits under Medicaid, according to the DOJ. 

“This settlement is a result of the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to prevent the abuse of the taxpayer-funded Medicare hospice program, which is intended to provide comfort and care to terminally ill persons during the last six months of their lives,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. “We will pursue those who seek to misuse this important benefit for their own enrichment.”

The claims allege the company directed its employees to admit all referred patients without regard to their Medicare hospice benefit eligibility, in addition to falsifying records to make it appear some patients were eligible when in fact they were not. 

In addition to the $3 million payment the company faces, it also has entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services that will place procedures toward detection and prevention of similar fraudulent activities. 

“Hospice care is a sacred trust from which no provider should fraudulently profit,” said Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Daniel R. Levinson. “Claiming tax dollars for people who are not terminally ill—and therefore ineligible for hospice care—cannot be tolerated.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker