LECANTO — Hospice of Citrus County has agreed to pay $3.02 million to settle claims that the health care provider billed the government for medically unnecessary and undocumented hospice services.
The settlement, announced this week, resolved allegations that the nonprofit hospice agency knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for medically unnecessary care for patients, some of whom had stayed longer than 1,000 days. Usually, federal health care programs only pay for hospice care for terminal patients who are expected to live less than six months.
Despite that, Hospice of Citrus treated dozens of patients for stays of more than three years, according to a news release announcing the settlement from A. Lee Bentley III, the U.S. attorney for the Department of Justice, Middle District of Florida.
Between June 1, 2009, and March 15, 2015, Hospice of Citrus treated at least 52 patients who stayed more than 1,000 days.
"The government contends that for those 52 patients, HOCC either knowingly or recklessly failed to document a valid basis for the initial start of hospice care and/or subsequent hospice coverage,'' according to the release.