Chemed, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Vitas, have agreed to pay $75 million to resolve a government lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act (FCA). According to the DOJ’s press release, the settlement resolves allegations that between 2002 and 2013 Vitas submitted false claims to Medicare for services to hospice patients who were not terminally ill.
The government’s complaint alleged that Vitas billed for patients who were not terminally ill and thus did not qualify for the hospice benefit. The government alleged that the defendants rewarded employees with bonuses for the number of patients receiving hospice services, without regard to whether they were actually terminally ill and whether they would have benefited from continuing curative care.
“This litigation and settlement demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and pursue hospice providers engaging in practices that abuse the Medicare hospice benefit,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Thomas M. Larson of the Western District of Missouri. “The integrity of the Medicare program must not be compromised by a hospice provider’s financial self-interest.”
In addition to resolving the lawsuit filed by the United States, the settlement resolves three lawsuits filed under the whistleblower provision of the FCA, which permits private parties to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in a portion of the government’s recovery. The Act permits the United States to intervene in such a lawsuit, as it did in the three whistleblower cases filed against the defendants. The amount to be recovered by the private whistleblowers has not yet been determined.
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