Hospice pays $6.5 million fine to settle fraud case

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A New York hospice provider Wednesday agreed to pay approximately $6.5 million in fines to settle alleged false Medicare and Medicaid claims over a 16-month period.

Compassionate Care Hospice of New York admitted to misconduct charges under the False Claims Act and agreed to pay the U.S. government $4.9 million and the state of New York another $1.6 million, according to Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Scott Lampert, special agent in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General's (HHS-OIG) New York Region.

In Wednesday's settlement, the company accepted responsibility for failing to treat patients according to an individualized plan of care, failing to meet the needs of certain patients, failing to make nursing services available 24 hours a day and seven days a week as required, and failing to maintain adequate clinical records. The firm also agreed to implement certain institutional compliance measures and submit to monitoring by HHS-OIG for five years.

“In addition to protecting public monies, this settlement agreement protects patients who require hospice care, by holding Compassionate Care Hospice accountable for providing inadequate services and sending a message to all similarly situated providers,” Bharara said in a prepared statement.

According to the government's complaint, Compassionate Care Hospice of New York failed to provide regulation-sanctioned hospice nursing services between May 2010 and September 2011 at its Bronx facility. The complaint alleged that CCH nurses routinely missed required visits and were instructed by company officials to falsify nursing notes in patients' files.

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