A government lawsuit reflecting claims from three separate states has led to the biggest False Claims Act settlement in history. Chemed was accused of Medicare fraud and faced a hospice whistleblower lawsuit as a result. In addition, their subsidiaries, including Vitas Healthcare Corporation and Vitas Hospice Services LLC were all named in the suit.
Millions to Be Recovered in Hospice Whistleblower Lawsuit
The Department of Justice shared that the $75 million settlement was the biggest yet under the False Claims Act for violations from a hospice service provider. As with many settlements, the agreement did not determine liability. However, the biggest for-profit hospice company in the country, Vitas, made the lawsuits and settlement remarkable. A Corporate Integrity Agreement was entered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for this hospice whistleblower lawsuit.
Medicare and Medicaid fraud claims are often brought forth by whistleblowers, or those company insiders who become aware of taxpayer fraud carried out under the umbrella of healthcare fraud scam.
The allegations in the hospice whistleblower lawsuit state that Chemed was responsible for giving hospice care to patients who did not require it. Typically, hospice care is provided to terminally ill patients near the end of the life to minimize suffering and to provide additional support. The general guideline for the provision of hospice care is that the patient is expected to live six months or less. When selecting hospice, those patients generally discontinue other treatments.
The claims in the hospice whistleblower lawsuit state that Chemed not only billed for services rendered to patients who should have never received it but also asked employees to increase the number of patients getting hospice care even if those patients could benefit from their current treatment and/or didn’t need hospice.
After investigation, the government determined that home care services were also provided even though they were unnecessary. Employees who took great efforts to increase the number of patients on hospice care were rewarded for their actions, even though most of the patients should not have qualified for it to begin with.
In addition to the government’s claim, the hospice whistleblower lawsuit settlement resolved the issues brought forth by shareholders. That portion of the claim was brought forward under the False Claims Act (FCA), which could entitle the plaintiffs to part of the recovery obtained.
Anyone who becomes aware of Medicare fraud within a company can exercise his or her rights to tell the authorities about the situation without fear of retaliation. Certain whistleblower claims, including those brought under the FCA, also allow for a whistleblower to receive a percentage of the overall recovery.
If you become aware of Medicare or Medicaid fraud in an organization you are working for or with and you want to inform someone, it’s important to protect your legal rights to do so. Talking to an attorney can clarify the steps you need to take to protect yourself. The attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher are currently investigating claims of potential healthcare fraud brought forth by whistleblowers.
Note: Bradley/Grombacher is not representing the plaintiff in this lawsuit.