Calif. hospice files for Chapter 11, Scripps Health steps in

A California hospice company embroiled in an investigation over improper billing and discharge practices has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. San Diego Hospice, currently being audited by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for its Medicare billing practices, took the action in order to restructure and reorganize following months of financial and regulatory challenges.

Last month, the hospice discharged some 100 patients who were deemed to have more than six months to live and laid off 260 of its workers. The hospice’s census has dropped by 50 percent in the past three months, noted a press statement on the hospice’s website.

To help fill local gaps in hospice services, San Diego Hospice asked long-time service partner Scripps Health to step in: “Because we have downsized and face other challenges, we encouraged Scripps Health—the region's largest provider of health care services—to enter the hospice business, to help us meet the community's need for high-quality hospice care,” the hospice announced Monday. Prior to San Diego Hospice’s Chapter 11 decision, the hospice had provided the palliative care to Scripps Health clients. As part of the agreement, Scripps Health will now assume responsibility for the care provided by Horizon Hospice, an at-home hospice care provider service affliliated with San Diego Hospice.

The closer scrutiny of hospice operations and billing practices is part of the OIG’s 2013 Work Plan, which includes plans to examine the business and care practices at hospices, skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care service lines.

Related story: OIG widens crackdown on hospices

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