The U.S. Department of Justice has filed suit against the hospice
company founded by Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, accusing the company of
engaging in Medicare fraud for more than 11 years, including during the
time Gaetz was vice chairman of the company.
The lawsuit, filed May 2 in the District Court for the western district of Missouri, alleges that since at least 2002 Vitas Hospice Services and Vitas Healthcare Corp., the largest provider of for-profit hospice services in the country, “misspent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars from the Medicare program.”
Gaetz sold the company in 2004 to its current owner, Cincinnati-based Chemed, and reportedly no longer owns any shares or has any affiliation with the company. Chemed operates hospice services in 18 states including Florida.
The suit, filed on the eve of the final day of the legislative session, alleges that the Chemed and its hospice subsidiaries defrauded Medicare by billing Medicare for patients who were not eligible for hospice care, and for charging Medicare for crisis care given to patients who either didn’t need it or never received it.