DALLAS – Five hospice companies agreed to a $12.2 million settlement in whistle-blower cases that claimed they paid kickbacks in exchange for referrals.
International Tutoring Services LLC, formerly known as International Tutoring Services Inc. and doing business as Hospice Plus; Goodwin Hospice LLC; Phoenix Hospice LP; Hospice Plus LP; and Curo Health Services LLC, formerly known as Curo Health Services Inc., agreed to settle the case that claimed the companies violated the False Claims Act, the Department of Justice announced April 18.
“We will not tolerate the payment of illegal kickbacks, which unjustly drive up the cost of health care,” said U.S. Attorney John Parker in a press release. “Any health care provider who seeks to profit illegally at the expense of federal beneficiaries and taxpayers will face consequences.”
Whistle-blowers claimed that two different schemes allowed the hospice companies to file false claims to Medicare and Texas Medicaid.
The first alleged scheme was from 2007 to 2012. According to the DOJ, the hospice companies gave nearly $3 million in “sham loans, a free equity interest in another entity, stock dividends, and free rental space,” to American Physician Housecalls in exchange for referrals.
In the second alleged scheme, which started the same year and lasted until 2014, the hospice companies purportedly gave cash and other valuables to medical providers in exchange for referrals.
Both cases were filed as qui tam cases in Dallas, meaning individuals filed the cases on behalf of the federal government.
A separate case was filed on Nov. 6, 2012, in the Northern District of Texas against Bryan White, M.D. and Suresh Kumar, two former executives involved in the first alleged scheme.
On April 25, the United States of America filed a complaint of partial intervention in the case on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asking the court to prosecute White and Kumar.