(Updated with comment from the attorney for Hospice of the Comforter at 5:45 p.m. ET.)
The U.S. Justice Department has joined a whistle-blower lawsuit against a hospice provider in the Orlando, Fla., area that stands accused by a former employee of admitting Medicare patients who did not qualify for palliative care because they were not dying.
The lawsuit, filed in 2011 by former Vice President of Finance Douglas Stone, says Hospice of the Comforter executives verbally told employees to admit Medicare beneficiaries for hospice care even though there had not been a medical determination that they would be eligible. Medicare's hospice benefit is available only to patients deemed to have six months or less to live and have stopped curative therapies for their illnesses.