Vitas, largest US for-profit hospice chain, to dole out $75M in false claims settlement

Cincinnati-based Chemed Corporation and its subsidiaries, Vitas Hospice Services and Vitas Healthcare Corporation, have agreed to pay a $75 million settlement for allegedly submitting false hospice service claims to Medicare.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit that claimed Vitas, the nation's largest for-profit hospice chain, submitted Medicare claims for hospice patients who were not terminally ill between 2002 and 2013. Only terminally ill patients qualify for Medicare-covered hospice care.

The lawsuit also alleged Vitas submitted false claims to Medicare regarding continuous home care that was either unnecessary, not provided in accordance with Medicare standards or simply not provided at all.

"Today's resolution represents the largest amount ever recovered under the False Claims Act from a provider of hospice services," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler of the Justice Department's Civil Division.  "Medicare's hospice benefit provides critical services to some of the most vulnerable Medicare patients, and the Department will continue to ensure that this valuable benefit is used to assist those who need it, and not as an opportunity to line the pockets of those who seek to abuse it."

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