The U.S. Department of Justice announced that Harmony Care Hospice, Inc. (“Harmony”), a hospice company located in South Carolina, and its CEO Daniel J. Burton, have agreed to settle a whistleblower suit for $1.28 million. According to Harmony’s website, it has four offices located in Columbia, Greenville, Hartsville, and Union, and serves patients in all 46 counties in South Carolina.
When a patient is admitted to hospice care, that patient no longer receives medical treatment intended to cure his or her illness. Instead, the patient only receives care intended to relieve pain, symptoms and the stress of terminal illness. Hospice providers are only entitled to Medicare funds for Medicare recipients with a prognosis of six months or less to live.
The whistleblowers, Mona Singletary and Lynda Fulton, filed a complaint under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act in 2010. The complaint alleged that Harmony and Burton knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare for patients who had not received a prognosis of less than 6 months to live and as such, were not entitled to receive hospice care.
According to the Justice Department, Harmony and Burton agreed to settle the lawsuit for $1,286,000. Burton, individually, has agreed to pay $200,000 of the settlement amount. The two whistleblowers will receive $244,529 as their reward under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.