Hospice provider will pay $10.1M for overcharging Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare

A Florida-based non-profit hospice provider will pay more than $10.1 million for allegedly overbilling Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, according to the terms of a settlement reached with federal authorities.

Covenant Hospice Inc. overbilled the government programs for hospice services between January 2009 and December 2010, the Department of Justice alleged.

Medicare, Tricare and Medicaid programs in Alabama and Florida provide four levels of hospice care: routine home care, continuous home care, inpatient respite care and general inpatient care. Covenant allegedly submitted hospice claims for general inpatient care that should have been submitted as claims for routine home care, which is set at the lowest reimbursement rate.

Covenant Vice President of Development and Communications Kelly Crosby told McKnight's the company identified inaccuracies in billing during a 2010 audit, and self-reported the information to the Department of Justice.

“Upon self-reporting we set aside those funds,” Crosby said. “We're proud that we did that, and were able to take care of that with the settlement. We hold compliance at a very high level.”

Self-reporting inaccuracies in billing to the government can help providers resolve false claims cases without litigation. In April, Pennsylvania-based CCRC Asbury Health Center bypassed litigation after self-reporting $1.3 million in Medicare payment inaccuracies.

Covenant provides hospice services throughout Southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.