The Department of Justice announced on September 6, 2012, that the government has intervened in a whistleblower lawsuit against Hospice of the Comforter Inc. (“HOTCI”) alleging false Medicare. HOTCI provides hospice services to patients residing in the vicinity of Orlando, Fla.
The lawsuit, filed by HOTCI’s former vice-president of finance, Douglas Stone, alleges that HOTCI knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare for hospice care for patients who were not terminally ill. Specifically, the lawsuit contends that HOTCI’s chief executive officer verbally instructed HOTCI employees to admit Medicare recipients for hospice care even where there had not yet been a determination that they were eligible for the hospice benefit. The lawsuit also alleges that, after being notified that it would be audited by its Medicare contractor, HOTCI formed an internal committee to review the eligibility of its Medicare patients and discharged at least 150 patients in 2009-2010 as being ineligible for the Medicare hospice benefit.
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