A federal jury is currently deliberating if one of the nation’s premiere hospice providers, AseraCare, has fraudulently billed Medicare more than $7 million for 121 patients who were not on the verge of dying.
This case is interesting for two reasons. The first reason is that it is the largest whistleblower lawsuit involving a hospice company in United States. The second reason is the U.S. District Court Judge divided the trial into two phases in a process called bifurcation. It is the first major False Claims Act trial where this process has been used.
In the first phase, the jury determines if the patients are falsely filed to claim reimbursement for Medicare hospice benefits. If the jurors find AseraCare filed false claims then the second phase begins. In this phase, the jury looks at allegations that AseraCare pressured nurses and doctors to sign up patients and keep them under the hospice program.
Hospice companies and attorneys specializing in False Claims Act Lawsuit are keeping an eye on this trial and are divided on the bifurcation process. On one hand, plaintiffs attorneys are against the bifurcation because jurors cannot have the complete picture of the trial even though the two phases are inherently bound to each other. On other hand, the defense is for this kind of process because they claim it is a practical way to solve the issues. If the first phase is decided for the plaintiff, the second can begin and they will pursue additional penalties.
AseraCare operates in 19 states and most of its patients do not have private insurance, so they are enrolled in the Medicare hospice program only if they are diagnosed as terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less.
Evans Law Firm, Inc. handles whistleblower/false claims, consumer fraud class actions, insurance and banking fraud, consumer product liability, elder abuse, and personal injury cases in California. If you think that you have witnessed or are the victim of financial fraud by an insurance company, bank or individual then, contact Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669 for a free and confidential consultation, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.