Odyssey Healthcare, a 2010 acquisition of hospice and home-health giant Gentiva, has again agreed to pay a substantial settlement to avoid FCA hot water. In 2006, Odyssey paid $12.9 million to resolve allegations that it “billed Medicare for services provided to hospice patients who were not terminally ill and therefore were ineligible for the Medicare hospice benefit.”
Over the ensuing few years, however, three seperate whistleblowers filed new False Claims Act complaints against Odyssey. This time, the complaints alleged that Odyssey falsely billed the United States for “continuous care” or “crisis care” provided to patients whose conditions did not warrant it.
Last month, Odyssey agreed to pay $25 million to settle the whistleblowers’ claims. Accorging to the Department of Justice, the settlement “resolves allegations that Odyssey submitted false claims to the Medicare program for continuous home care services that were unnecessary or that were not performed in accordance with Medicare requirements.”
Of course, Odyssey has not admitted liability with regard to any of these allegations. Nevertheless, repeated FCA settlements by the same company always beg the question: if these kinds of monetary deterrents are not sufficient to prevent misconduct, should HHS or DOJ be pursuing some other strategy?