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Arizona hospice settles allegations of Medicare fraud

PHOENIX – Federal authorities say Arizona hospice, Hospice Family Care, has agreed to pay
$3.7 million to resolve civil allegations that the company submitted false
claims to Medicare.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona announced the settlement Thursday.

Federal prosecutors say Hospice Family Care and its co-owners submitted payment
claims 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.

They say the two co-owners agreed to be excluded from Medicare, Medicaid and
all other federal health care programs for seven years effective immediately.

“We are surprised that the United States would issue a press release in this matter that is both misleading and irresponsible,” said former Hospice Family Care owner Nancy Smith in a response to the release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “The United States knows full well that we agreed to the settlement agreement in connection with the sale of our business and that going forward the settlement agreement has no impact on Hospice Family Care or its new owners,” she added. “For the United States to send out a press release that implies that Hospice Family Care is now excluded from seeking reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid is irresponsible – did the United States even think for a moment how such a misleading press release might cause panic and concern for Hospice Family Care’s patients.”

The former owners of Hospice Family Care said they never admitted any wrongdoing and the settlement amount was less than three percent of what the government originally demanded.

“The bottom line is that we agreed to a settlement agreement with the United States to allow us to sell our business, and if that sale was not a factor, we would have never settled with the government and had the matter proceeded to litigation, we are certain that we would have prevailed,” said former Hospice Family Care owner Nancy Smith.

The hospice was founded in 1992 and serves patients in Mesa, Gilbert, Peoria,
Prescott, Tucson and Casa Grande.