Hospice of the Bluegrass, Inc., located in Lexington, has agreed to pay the U.S. government hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle civil allegations.
According to the settlement agreement, from January 2002 to December 31st 2008, Hospice submitted numerous claims to Medicare to receive reimbursements for services performed on patients who did not qualify for the Medicare services. Hospice agreed to pay the federal government $685,000 to settle the allegations.
Five Hospice employees previously filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that Hospice improperly billed for Medicare services. In this case, the employees will receive $137,000 of the recovered money.
Hospice of the Bluegrass released this statement in response to the settlement:
“The United States Department of Justice announced the settlement of a case involving Hospice of the Bluegrass. The issue focused upon the physicians’ determination of the life expectancy and length of stay of terminally ill patients who received care nearly a decade ago. Making decisions about how long patients are expected to live is complex, especially for patients who suffer from non-cancer terminal diseases like heart and lung disease. Ninety percent of Hospice of the Bluegrass patients die within six months of admission, almost all patients die within one year; only a small percentage of very ill patients survive more than one year.
“Physicians who specialize in Hospice and Palliative Medicine disagree with government reviewers about the eligibility for hospice care of this small number of non-cancer patients. However, Hospice of the Bluegrass chose to settle after carefully considering the resources and time that would be necessary to litigate the issues in order to focus on providing high quality, compassionate hospice care for dying patients and their families.”