Chemed Corporation and various of its subsidiaries, including Vitas Hospice Services LLC and Vitas Healthcare Corporation (collectively “Vitas”), recently settled allegations brought by the federal government that Vitas violated the False Claims Act by submitting to Medicare false claims for hospice services.
As part of the settlement, Vitas agreed to pay $75 million and enter into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.
The federal government alleged that between 2002 and 2013, Vitas knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare for patients who were not terminally ill. Medicare's hospice benefit is available to patients who are terminally ill and choose to forgo the right to curative care. The government alleged that Vitas rewarded employees with bonuses for the number of patients receiving hospice services, without regard to whether the patients were terminally ill and would have benefited from continuing curative care. In addition, the government alleged that Vitas submitted claims for continuous home care services that were not necessary, not actually provided, or not performed in accordance with Medicare requirements.
As this case demonstrates, Medicare providers should carefully evaluate their billing and claim submission practices, thoroughly train employees, and conduct periodic internal audits to ensure compliance with Medicare requirements. If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Van Regenmorter or Julie Hamlet.