In one year, nearly 60 percent of Medicare’s hospice expensitures of $13.8 billion went to support patients who stay on hospice care longer than six months, according to MedPAC a watchdog organization created by Congress. Medicare regulations state that in order to be eligible for Medicare, a hospice patient must have a diagnosis of impending death within six months.
A closer look at the hospice care industry in America indicates that many hospice companies are taking on patients who are not in declining health. Four of the ten largest companies in the U.S. have been sued by whistleblowers alleging that the patients were receiving care they did not need. The Depart of Justice has joined many of these lawsuits including one against AseraCare and Vitas, the nation’s largest hospice provider.
In addition to other illegal practices, many of the companies use “outreach specialists” and “community education representatives” to solicit patients and physicians. They connect at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. at Odyssey Healthcare one of the nation’s larger hospice care providers, court records indicate that representatives earn bonuses if they meet their goals for new patients.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers