Judge shuts down whistleblower hospice suit due to unspecific claims
Chase's allegations didn't pinpoint any specific claims from Chapters, "let alone a false one," the judge said
A former employee's allegations of fraud against a Florida-based hospice chain lack the specificity to prove the company was in violation of the False Claims Act, a federal court ruled Thursday.
Nancy Chase, who worked at LifePath Hospice in Tampa, FL for 20 years, claimed LifePath and its parent company, Chapters Health System, falsely enrolled patients who were not eligible for hospice services and billed Medicare for care the company didn't provide.
Chase also claimed the company conspired with and paid other healthcare providers to provide hospice referrals for ineligible patients, and that she was demoted and eventually fired in 2012 after she voiced concerns about LifePath's admission of hospice patients.
She first filed a lawsuit against Chapters in 2010, and has since filed a total of five complaints.
In his ruling Judge James S. Moody, Jr., with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, said Chase's allegations failed to identify any specific claims submitted by Chapters to Medicare, “let alone a false one.”
“Throughout her complaint, Chase alleges the existence of widespread medical abuses committed by hospice-care and other medical providers,” Moody wrote. “She fails, however, to allege the connection between those abuses and the existence of false claims submitted to the government for payment.”
Due to Chase's failure to back up her claims, “the Court is convinced that any future amendment would be futile,” Moody said of his decision to dismiss the suit.