South Carolina hospice, owner/CEO pay nearly $1.3 million to settle whistleblower case

by Ben Vernia | November 23rd, 2012

On November 20, the Department of Justice announced that it had reached a settlement with a South Carolina hospice and its owner and Chief Executive Officer, over allegations that the company and owner had submitted false claims to Medicare. According to DOJ’s press release:

Harmony Care Hospice Inc. (Harmony) and Harmony owner and chief executive officer Daniel J. Burton have agreed to pay the United States $1,286,999.32 to settle allegations that the South Carolina-based company submitted false claims to Medicare for patients under care at its hospice facilities, the Justice Department announced today.

Hospices provide palliative care – medical treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of a disease’s symptoms – to patients who decide to forego curative care of their illness. Medicare beneficiaries are entitled to hospice care if they have a terminal prognosis of six months or less. The United States alleged that Harmony and Burton knowingly submitted or caused to be submitted false claims for patients who did not have such a prognosis and thus were not eligible for hospice care. Under today’s agreement, Burton is individually liable for $200,000 of the settlement amount.

The government announced that two qui tam relators will receive $244,529.87 from the settlement (a 19% relator’s share).

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