Hospices Now the Target of Medicare Fraud

In a world gone mad with greed, hospices are now the target of Medicare fraud. Claims are being made for people who are not dying.

Most people associate hospices with caring, quite, dignified palliative care for those who need assistance and who would otherwise be alone and in pain and fear. Hospice care, as we mentioned in another article, is a right under the Medicare program and many people have cheered at this inclusion. It’s a nod in the right direction for our society as a whole; demonstrating that we respect and honor those who will pass on before us, and that they deserve hospice care.

If people actually knew that hospices are now the targets of scams and fraudulent schemes, they would be angered beyond reason. That is what is happening, largely because while many only see the façade of the hospice – the caring ministers and nurses – the hospices these days are owned by big business and big business functions best on big profits.

What’s the scam? The scam is that money is being made hand over fist through Medicare reimbursements for people who are not dying and who don’t qualify for the Medicare Hospice Benefit. What is even worse is when this kind of fraud is the cause of patients and families not getting treatments they may need that could improve their lives. This has to stop.

Check out some of the stories online where big business hospice companies have handed out some mega-settlement money to divert attention from the fact that their hospices admit and readmit non-terminal patients and then fraudulently bills Medicare (and Medicaid). Here is one classic example: Odyssey Hospice, a huge national hospice company, paid out $12.9 million in 2006 for this type of fraud and then – well, they kept right on doing business they way they always had.

If you want another example, take the one of SouthernCare who coughed up $25 million in 2009 thanks to a whistleblower lawsuit. Both of these large companies paid their fines, but apparently nothing changed. It’s a fact that hospices are mega business opportunities. It’s a fact that many have revenues that top $600 million a year. It’s also a fact that they are making money on the backs of innocent people.

Are you aware of Medicare hospice fraud? If you are, it’s time to speak out and do something about it. The dignity of the dying is crucial and the future of the Medicare hospice benefit hangs in the balance with fraud continuing to strip the system of dollars that could be used for the benefit of the patients and not big business.

Richard Cantu is with Medicare supplements resource, GoMedigap.com. To learn more about Medicare, Medicare supplements, or Medicare supplement insurance visit GoMedigap.com.