Caris Healthcare, L.P. has entered an agreement with the DOJ in which it has agreed to pay $8.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act. The qui tam action was filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee by a registered nurse who was formerly an employees of Caris Healthcare.

The former employee alleged that Caris Healthcare submitted false claims and retained overpayments in connection with claims for hospice services.  The patients at issue were allegedly ineligible for hospice benefits under Medicare because such patients were not terminally ill. According to the complaint, Caris Healthcare was made aware of the ineligibility of the patients, yet continued to submit the claims to Medicare. Allegedly, in an effort to meet the aggressive admissions and census targets set by the company, Caris Healthcare admitted patients whose medical records did not support a terminal prognosis.

The settlement provides another reminder for healthcare entities to ensure that they are billing accurately for services that are covered by Medicare and our properly rendered.  In light of the scrutiny on the healthcare industry it is important to separately assess each patient and make individualized determinations regarding care.  Moreover, healthcare entities should carefully review internal concerns that are raised both to ensure that the company truly has a top-down culture of compliance, but also to identify and resolve potential issues that may arise.