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Hospice Chain Sued For Alleged Medicare False Billings

Vitas Hospice Services LLC, is the hospice chain that is being sued for alleged Medicare false billings. If you believe you or your loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, misconduct or wrongdoing on the part of a hospice chain, you should see a personal injury attorney.

The United States Justice Department has sued the largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States, Vitas Hospice Services LLC, and other hospice subsidiaries of Chemed Corp for allegedly making false billings for Medicare hospice services. Chemed Corp obtained Vitas Hospice Services LLC in 2004. Chemed Corp also owns ROTO-ROOTER, which is a plumbing and drain service.

The Complaint has also been filed against Vitas Healthcare Corporation. Vitas is a provider of hospice services to people in 18 states. These are Florida, Connecticut, Delaware, California, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Jersey, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Illinois, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana and the District of Columbia.

Crisis care services

The lawsuit alleges that Chemed and Vitas made false claims to Medicare for crisis care services. Crisis care refers to continuous home care for patients who are experiencing a brief period of crisis (acute medical symptoms). Crisis care under Medicare is for patients whose acute medical symptoms have to have short-term and immediate provision of specialized nursing services. The purpose of crisis care is to keep the patient at home. Crisis care is the highest daily reimbursement rate service that a hospice chain can bill Medicare.

The lawsuit by the US Justice Department alleges that these companies actually had “crisis days targets” that they wanted billed to Medicare. The companies are accused of using aggressive marketing tactics and making their own personnel increase the number of crisis care claims being made to Medicare. The companies are accused of doing this without regard for whether the patient really needed these services or whether they were truly provided.

A press release by the United States Department of Justice stated this. “The government’s complaint alleges that Chemed and Vitas Hospice knowingly submitted or caused the submission of false claims to Medicare for crisis care services that were not necessary, not actually provided, or not performed in accordance with Medicare requirements.”

False Claims Act

Chemed and Vitas are accused of breaking the False Claims Act by misspending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars from the Medicare program. The hospice chain is also accused of allegedly paying bonuses to staff that were based on the number of people who were enrolled in the program and people who were admitted for longer lengths of stay. On the other hand, the companies are accused of allegedly taking adverse employment actions against marketing representatives who were not able to meet monthly hospice admissions goals.

Chemed and Vitas say that they are going to fight this lawsuit “vigorously”. They say that they have made substantial investments in systems, procedures and controls to keep the highest industry standards and to ensure that all of its hospices comply completely with regulatory requirements.

Once again, if you believe that you or your loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, misconduct or wrongdoing on the part of a hospice chain, you really need to contact a personal injury attorney.