Hospice Family Care to pay $3.7 mil for false claims

Hospice Family Care, a Mesa based company, has agreed 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.

The settlement agreement resolves allegations that Hospice Family Care and its co-owners, Nancy Smith and Nancy Turner, submitted claims for payment to Medicare for patients who were either completely or partially hospice ineligible or were provided a higher level of hospice care than was necessary or allowable. Under the settlement agreement, both Smith and Turner agreed to be excluded from Medicare, Medicaid, and all other federal health care programs for seven years, effective immediately.

“This sort of scam destroyed my family. Unscrupulous people pretending to be care givers convinced a family member that the only way that she could get good care for her elderly mother was to have a doctor declare her terminally ill. She wasn’t terminally ill, she was old and frail,” said one hospice scam victim. “The toll of being told that she needed to find a doctor who would declare her terminally ill, so that the scammers could care for her, was devastating. It killed her, not her age. The scammers played on the family’s fears, and guilt.”

“Our agents used sophisticated data analysis techniques to investigate Hospice Family Care’s activities,” said Glenn R. Ferry, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (OIG-HHS) region covering Arizona. “Health providers planning to submit false claims to government programs are warned that investigators will be using these data mining tools alongside traditional techniques to root out fraud.”

Hospice Family Care has operations in the Phoenix area, Prescott, Casa Grande, and Tucson. It was founded in 1992. The company remains in business.

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