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Whistleblower suit alleges AseraCare Hospice defrauded Medicare

January 5, 2012
by Patricia Sheehan
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The U.S. Justice Department has filed a complaint in a whistleblower suit against AseraCare Hospice for violating the False Claims Act by misspending millions of tax dollars intended for Medicare recipients in need of hospice care.

AseraCare Hospice, a for-profit company with approximately 65 hospice providers in 19 states, is owned by skilled nursing provider Golden Living. In the lawsuit, the government contends that AseraCare Hospice knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare for hospice care for patients who were not terminally ill.

“Medicare benefits, including the hospice benefits, are intended only for those individuals who are appropriately qualified,” said Joyce White Vance, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

The whistleblower suit was originally filed by Dawn Richardson and Marsha Brown, former employees of AseraCare Hospice.

The False Claims Act allows private citizens with knowledge of fraud to file whistleblower suits on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery. If the United States intervenes in an action and proves that a defendant has knowingly submitted false claims, it is entitled to recover three times the damage that resulted and a penalty of $5,500 to $11,000 per claim.

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