Two hospice executives — Nancy Smith and Nancy Turner, the owners of Hospice Family Care, Inc. — have been excluded from participation in Medicare programs as part of a settlement of civil False Claims Act allegations that the company billed for ineligible and nonterminal patients, according to Arizona U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel.
In addition to the Medicare exclusion, which will last for seven years, Smith and Turner have agreed for Hospice Family Care, Inc. to pay the United States $3,700,000 “to resolve civil allegations that the company violated the federal False Claims Act by submitting false bills to Medicare.”
“Medicare funds are intended to benefit seniors and individuals with certain disabilities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “Not only do those who abuse the Medicare Program take money that is meant to help those who truly need assistance, but they also contribute to higher health care costs and rising taxes.”
The decision of HHS-OIG to require the executives to agree to Medicare exclusion as a term of the civil settlement appears to be part of a growing trend in Medicare fraud enforcement.