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Serenity Hospice and Palliative Care Pays $2.2 Million to Resolve False Claims Allegations
A hospice operating in Phoenix, Arizona, Serenity Hospice and Palliative Care, has agreed to pay $2.2 million to resolve civil allegations that the company violated the federal False Claims Act by submitting false bills to Medicare for hospice services.
The Medicare hospice benefit is available for patients who elect palliative care (medical care that is focused on providing residents with relief from pain, symptoms, or stress) for a terminal illness and patients who anticipate to have a life expectancy of six months or less, if the illness runs its normal course. When a Medicare patient is admitted to hospice, that patient is no longer entitled to Medicare coverage for care designed to cure the patient’s type of illness. The settlement agreement resolves allegations that Serenity knowingly submitted false claims for payment to Medicare for hospice patients. In addition to agreeing to pay $2.2 million, Serenity agreed to enter into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. A former nurse and the founder and former president of Serenity, Ruth Siegel, agreed to be excluded from Medicare, Medicaid, and all other federal health care programs for five years effective immediately.
Individuals with information pertaining to fraud, waste, or abuse related to Medicare or other federal programs are encouraged to file a complaint with Medicare.