US Announces Another Major Hospice Settlement in Whistleblower Case

Thanks to a False Claim Act case filed by former employee Ellen Momeyer, Hospice of Arizona L.C. has agreed to pay $12 million to the United States to settle hospice fraud allegations.  Ms. Momeyer filed the case in 2010, alleging that Hospice of Arizona admitted and billed for patients who it knew were not terminally ill.  After investigating her allegations, the United States agreed, finding that the hospice pressured staff to recruit Medicare patients and made it difficult to discharge patients who longer qualified for the hospice benefit.  As a result, the Department of Justice contended, the hospice knowingly submitted false claims for hospice care to the federal government through the Medicare program administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Hospice of Arizona L.C. is owned and operated by parent company American Hospice Management Holdings LLC.

Glenn R. Ferry of HHS’s Office of Inspector General said, “Medicare and taxpayers depend on hospice agencies to provide medically appropriate services to terminally ill patients. When providers place more importance on the bottom line than on the care of these vulnerable patients, they can expect to face serious penalties.”

As part of the settlement, Hospice of Arizona will be required to enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with HHS.  Ms. Momeyer will receive a $1.8M reward for her contributions as a whistleblower.