WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Oct. 30 that Chemed Corporation and various subsidiaries will pay $75 million after allegations of submitting false claims for hospice services to Medicare and thereby violating the False Claims Act.
“Today’s resolution represents the largest amount ever recovered under the False Claims Act from a provider of hospice services,” said acting assistant attorney general Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Medicare’s hospice benefit provides critical services to some of the most vulnerable Medicare patients, and the department will continue to ensure that this valuable benefit is used to assist those who need it, and not as an opportunity to line the pockets of those who seek to abuse it.”
In 2004, Chemed acquired Vitas Hospice Services LLC and Vitas Healthcare Corporation. Vitas, the largest for-profit hospice chain in the nation, allegedly submitted false claims to Medicare from 2002 to 2013. Vitas purportedly billed non-terminally-ill patients for services reserved under Medicare for terminally ill patients.
“This litigation and settlement demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and pursue hospice providers engaging in practices that abuse the Medicare hospice benefit,” said acting U.S. attorney Thomas M. Larson of the Western District of Missouri. “The integrity of the Medicare program must not be compromised by a hospice provider’s financial self-interest.”