SouthernCare, a Birmingham, Ala.-based hospice provider with locations in 15 states, agreed to pay the U.S. government $24.7 million to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging the company billed Medicare for patients who didnt meet the eligibility requirement of a terminal prognosis with six months or less to live.
The company does not admit liability in the agreement, which also calls for a five-year corporate integrity agreement with HHS inspector generals office. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to strengthen our regulatory compliance efforts and to bring greater clarity to eligibility standards, SouthernCare President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Pardy said in a statement.
The Justice Department allegations stem from separate whistle-blower lawsuits filed by former employees in U.S. District Court in Birmingham in 2005 and 2007. The whistle-blowers, Tonja Rice and Nancy Romeo, are set to share $4.9 million of the settlement payment.