The federal government says hospice fraud costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. An Action News Jax Investigation has uncovered hospices accused of fraud are only getting a slap on the wrist.
“My signature was on paperwork that I didn’t sign,” said Jacksonville hospice whistleblower Dr. John Simons.
That was one of the first red flags for Simons. He’s a former medical director at Haven Hospice and Hospice of the Treasure Coast. Hospice is where people go for end of life care, but Simons said he saw a pattern of hospices taking on patients with plenty of life left to live, billing Medicare hundreds of dollars a day.
“There was a CEO down at one point who basically just told us to just do it and shut up. We didn’t have an option,” said Simons. Simons became a whistleblower for the federal government.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office hit both Haven Hospice and Treasure Coast with False Claims Act Lawsuits.
Both hospices settled last year. That’s not the end of the story.
“The penalties don’t meet the crime, if you will,” said Simons.
The government accused Haven Hospice of defrauding taxpayers out of “hundreds of millions,” but Haven only had to pay up about $5 million. The government accused Treasure Coast – now known as Treasure Health – of defrauding taxpayers out of $72 million. They settled for $2.5 million.
– Action News Jax