South Carolina-based Harmony Care Hospice Inc. and CEO/Owner Daniel J. Burton to Pay U.S. $1.286 Million to Resolve False Claims Act

Harmony Care Hospice Inc. (Harmony) and Harmony owner and chief executive officer Daniel J. Burton have agreed to pay the United States $1,286,999.32 to settle allegations that the South Carolina-based company submitted false claims to Medicare for patients under care at its hospice facilities, the Justice Department announced today.  

 Hospices provide palliative care – medical treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of a disease’s symptoms – to patients who decide to forego curative care of their illness.   Medicare beneficiaries are entitled to hospice care if they have a terminal prognosis of six months or less. The United States alleged that Harmony and Burton knowingly submitted or caused to be submitted false claims for patients who did not have such a prognosis and thus were not eligible for hospice care.   Under today’s agreement, Burton is individually liable for $200,000 of the settlement amount.  

 “Billing Medicare for unnecessary or inappropriate end-of-life care contributes to the soaring costs of health care for everyone.  Today’s settlement demonstrates the Department of Justice’s efforts both to protect public funds and safeguard Medicare beneficiaries,” said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division.

Today’s settlement with Harmony and Burton resolves a lawsuit filed by former Harmony employees Mona Singletary and Lynda Fulton under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.   Under the False Claims Act, private citizens can bring suit for false claims on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. Together, Singletary and Fulton will receive $244,529.87 as their share of the government’s recovery.

 As part of the settlement, Harmony and Burton will enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to address the allegations raised in the qui tam complaint.