Dublin-based hospice company to pay $581,504 to settle false claims case

A Dublin-based hospice company and an affiliate corporation have agreed to pay the federal government $581,504 to settle allegations that the hospice company submitted or caused the submission of false Medicare claims for patients ineligible for hospice care under Medicare regulations.

A former billing clerk who helped in the 2013 filing of the lawsuit against Serenity Hospice Care LLC is set to receive $110,485 of the government’s cut, according to a settlement document filed in the case last month.

The employee worked out of the Dublin office from July 2011 until her termination in July 2012, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged that the company -- which has offices in Dublin, Vidalia, Warner Robins, Milledgeville, Columbus and Peachtree City -- billed the government for services that weren’t provided, services at a higher level than those provided and for ineligible patients.

Medicare’s hospice benefit is afforded to patients who choose palliative care -- relief for pain, symptoms or stress of a terminal illness -- instead of care designed to cure a condition. To be eligible, a patient must have a life expectancy of six months or less, according to a news release announcing the settlement issued Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Justice.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.