Hospice providers to pay more than $13 million in string of kickback, FCA settlements

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Multiple hospice providers have agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle physician kickback and False Claims Act allegations, authorities said in separate announcements made Thursday.

The first settlement involves two married couples who reportedly submitted false Medicare claims while operating a now-defunct Philadelphia hospice company.

The $8.8 million settlement will clear up allegations against Matthew Kolodesh, Alex Pugman, Svetlana Ganetsky, and Malvina Yakobashvili, the owners of Home Care Hospice, Inc. HCH allegedly submitted false Medicare claims and fabricated records between 2003 and 2008 for services that were unnecessary or not provided.

Kolodesh, Pugman and Ganetsky have also been convicted of criminal charges in the case; in total, 22 people who were employed by or associated with HCH have been criminally convicted, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said.

The final two settlements involve subsidiaries of Compassionate Care Hospice Group Inc., a national hospice company providing home, inpatient and nursing home-based services.

The first resolves a whistleblower lawsuit against CCHG subsidiary Compassionate Care Hospice of Atlanta LLC, claiming it had engaged in “improper financial relationships” with physicians, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia. CCH of Atlanta allegedly paid five physicians to refer patients to the company and certify patients as eligible for hospice services.

The provider will pay $2.4 million to settle the allegations. CCH of Atlanta is no longer in operation, according to local reports.

Another CCH subsidiary in Bensalem, PA, has agreed to pay $2 million to resolve claims that it billed Medicare between 2005 and 2011 for hospice services that were provided to patients who did not require hospice care. Compassionate Care of Gwynedd Inc. reportedly diagnosed those patients with a “debility” that was not medically justified in order to bill for hospice services. That lawsuit was also brought by whistleblowers.

“The settlements have been entered in the interest of resolving the allegations and allowing CCH to move forward and focus its attention on its primary mission of providing individualized, top-quality care to patients facing life's final stages,” the company said in a statement that emphasized the firm had cooperated with government investigators throughout.