Once accused of defrauding Medicare of $14 million in false claims in a single year, a Florida hospice provider has agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve the allegations.
In an interview with Bloomberg Law this week, a defense attorney for Health and Palliative Services of the Treasure Coast blamed the investigation, which stemmed from whistleblower complaints in 2011, on “documentation errors.”
The settlement was reached in November, according to court documents, but it was unsealed only this month. Two doctors who once worked for the company claimed managers were encouraging fake medical records and enrolling non-terminal patients for hospice care.
The settlement covers the care of 69 patients treated between October 2005 and August 2011.
Defense attorney Latour “LT” Lafferty of Holland & Knight in Tampa told Bloomberg May 21 that “recordkeeping errors are common” in hospice.
“Ultimately, there were documentation errors, but those other allegations in the complaint were never substantiated,” Lafferty said.
The Justice Department announced the settlement between the parties and the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday. The government had entered the case in August 2017.
Bloomberg pointed out that Medicare losses due to alleged false claims by Treasure Coast would have been $14 million for 2010, based on government estimates provided in an amended complaint. A Justice Department spokeswoman told the news organization she couldn’t immediately comment on the relatively low settlement.