Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman today announced that the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California have intervened and entered into a multimillion-dollar settlement in a recently unsealed healthcare fraud case against the San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care Corporation.
Mark H. Schlein, the head of Baum Hedlund’s False Claims Act and Whistleblower Litigation Group, and Diane Marger Moore represented the whistleblower or “relator.” The Qui Tam lawsuit (case no. 12CV2866-CAB [KSC]) was filed under seal in December 2012 in federal district court in California.
The relator alleged that the San Diego Hospice systematically admitted and retained hospice patients who did not meet federal requirements for hospice care. The federal investigation that followed, coupled with dramatic admissions by Kathleen Pacurar, formerly the Chief Executive Officer and President of San Diego Hospice, led the once prominent hospice to declare bankruptcy and cease operations.
Although the bankruptcy complicated the resolution of the case, the United States has already received an initial recovery of one million dollars pursuant to the terms of the settlement. The total final amount of the recovery, which is expected to be in the millions, will follow shortly.
“Hospice is intended to provide compassionate care for people facing a terminal illness or injury”, said Mark Schlein. “It is centered on the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity. I am very proud that my client had the courage to stand up and say that when federal dollars are spent on patients that do not need hospice services, patients that truly need this precious end of life care may not receive it. Hopefully, this case will serve as a reminder to all hospice providers that they have been given a sacred trust which they must not abuse.”
The federal investigation into the false claims act lawsuit was conducted by Assistant United States Attorneys for the Southern District of California Joseph Price, Deputy Chief, Civil Division and Douglas Keehn, the United States Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Although the total amount of the government’s recovery in the settlement announced today will await a final accounting by the bankruptcy court, it is anticipated the relator will receive a reward of over one million dollars.
About Mark Schlein
Mark H. Schlein oversees all whistleblower – qui tam litigation for Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, P.C. While a government attorney, Mark investigated a wide variety of health care fraud and insurance-related crimes and participated in whistleblower litigation that resulted in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars at the federal and state levels. He was the Director of Florida’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for nine years and implemented the Attorney General’s false claims litigation unit. Mark also helped develop global litigation strategies for the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units and managed the successful settlement of multimillion-dollar health care fraud cases.