Hospice of Arizona L.C., along with a related entity, American Hospice Management LLC, and their parent corporation, American Hospice Management Holdings LLC, have agreed to pay $12 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting or causing the submission of false claims to the Medicare program for ineligible hospice services, the Justice Department announced today.
The Medicare hospice benefit is available for patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less if their disease runs its normal course. Patients admitted to a hospice stop receiving care to cure their illnesses and instead receive medical care focused on providing them with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a terminal illness. Today’s settlement resolves allegations that Hospice of Arizona, and its related entities, submitted or caused the submission of false Medicare claims between Sept. 1, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2010, for Hospice of Arizona patients who did not need end of life care or for whom the hospice billed at a higher reimbursement rate than it was entitled.
The government alleged that Hospice of Arizona and its related entities, engaged in certain practices that resulted in the admission of ineligible patients or inflated bills, including pressuring staff to find more patients eligible for Medicare, adopting procedures that delayed and discouraged staff from discharging patients from hospice when they were no longer appropriate for such services, and not implementing an adequate compliance program that might have addressed these problems. As part of the settlement, American Hospice Management Holdings has agreed to enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services that provides for procedures and reviews to be put in place to avoid and promptly detect conduct similar to that which gave rise to the settlement.
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