SouthernCare, an Birmingham, AL based hospice company, is paying the federal government $24.7 million to settle claims that the company fraudulently enrolled elderly people in hospice and charged Medicare for services when the patients were not dying, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The charges stem from two lawsuits unsealed Thursday that were filed in Birmingham's federal court by two former employees of SouthernCare, a private company with 95 offices in 15 states. The whistle-blowers, Tonja Rice and Nancy Romeo, will get $4.9 million from the settlement. Both are registered nurses. Rice filed her suit in 2005 and Romeo filed hers in 2007. The settlement unveiled Thursday said the fraudulent behavior took place from January 2000 through September 2008.