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Members of Congress want answers on hospice fraud and abuse | California

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Ria Joseph | contributor – 2023-06-23 14:08:00

(The Center Square) – In a June 21 letter to Inspector General Christi A. Grimm, five Members of Congress requested a briefing with the Office of the Inspector General to become apprised as to how widespread reports of fraud and abuse at Medicare Certified Hospices were, and what was being done about such illegal activity.

“Unfortunately, a surge of newly certified hospices have been engaged in unlawful, unethical practices, resulting in alarming reports of fraud and abuse that threaten both patient safety and fiscal responsibility,” the letter by Representatives Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas, Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., Mike Carey, R-Ohio, Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, Michelle Steel, R-Calif., Darin LaHood, R-Ill. and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., said.

A November 2022 article by ProPublica highlighted the pressures put on hospice personnel to find and recruit increasing numbers of patients into hospice care, even when statistics for those quotas did not square with the request. It also illuminated strategies devised by hospice operators to turn a profit even when patients weren't terminal and spent long periods in hospice care.

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In an industry as unregulated as the hospice care business, the government's main defense against hospice fraud depends on whistleblowers, the article revealed. Violation of the federal False Claims Act was reported in 7 out of 10 of the largest hospices by former employees in 2021.

“Hospice is an important service that should be there in some of life's hardest moments, but fraud is plaguing the system in Southern California. My colleagues and I are demanding answers,” a tweet by Representative Michelle Steel commented.

“Many fraudulent hospices also employ a “churn and burn” strategy through which they apply for new licenses to continue billing Medicare with no change in the number of enrolled patients,” the letter continued. “State auditors in California discovered a recent surge in new hospices, particularly in Los Angeles County with some of these hospices appearing to have been set up with fictional patients and medical staff.”

The letter noted that in January last year a statewide moratorium on licenses for new hospice facilities served only to push questionable hospice operations towards states east of California. 

Because of the variety and scope of Medicare hospice fraud, the congress members articulated support for the Office of the Inspector General in addressing the cancerous fraud and questioned whether sufficient oversight was in place for procedures governing state licenses, accreditation, and certification.

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“Any inadequacy could harm a critical Medicare benefit that in most cases provides high-quality and person-centered care for patients and families,” it pointed out.

Hospice care is special because it provides for patients in the most vulnerable position i.e. in end-of-life circumstances, giving them the dignity and comfort they deserve, the congress members noted in the letter, but it also serves to avoid expensive and unnecessary Medicare costs associated with inpatient hospital stays and emergency department visits.  

The congress members requested updates on hospice fraud caseloads, resources sufficiency to address the proliferation of fraudulent providers, noticeable trends, and the plan of action the Office of the Inspector General is taking to confront the situation – within 14 days. 

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Texas News

The town that changed its name for free cable TV

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www.kxan.com – Russell Falcon – 2024-02-24 15:08:00

SUMMARY: In 2005, the small town of Clark in Texas changed its name to DISH in exchange for free cable TV service for ten years from Dish Network. However, the deal only provided basic service for free, with premium channels costing extra. The city hoped the offer would attract more residents and businesses, but the influx was not as expected. The deal expired in 2015, and discussions have been held about changing the name back to Clark or something else, but no action has been taken. Texas is known for its odd town names, including Bug Tussle, Cut and Shoot, Jot ‘Em Down, and Nameless.

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Big 12 men’s basketball matchup: No. 2 Houston Cougars beat No. 11 Baylor Bears in overtime at Foster Pavilion

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abc13.com – KTRK – 2024-02-24 14:58:44

SUMMARY: The University of Houston men’s basketball team defeated Baylor 82-76 in their first visit to Waco in 28 years. The Cougars shot 58% in the first half and led 41-25 at halftime. UH guard Emanuel Sharp scored 18 points, with teammate Jamal Shead adding a double-double. Houston forward J’Wan Roberts scored 17 points. Baylor guard Ja’Kobe Walter scored 23 points and RayJ Dennis added 21 points. Despite a close finish, Houston secured the win and improved to a 24-3 overall record. They are now at the top of the Big 12 conference standings and will face Cincinnati next before finishing out their schedule in March.

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Oscars red carpet: Top 10 most iconic fashion moments for women in recent years

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abc13.com – OTRC – 2024-02-24 13:00:25

SUMMARY: The Oscars red carpet inspires a fashion fantasy world, with supermodel Roshumba Williams listing her top 10 best-dressed women in recent years. Nicole Kidman stunned in Dior in 2018, Janelle Monae shined in 2020, Gemma Chan made an impact in hot pink Valentino in 2019, and Zendaya stood out in yellow in 2021. Gwyneth Paltrow impressed in a cape dress in 2012, Charlize Theron turned heads in classic black in 2020, and Jennifer Lopez was breathtaking in blush in 2015. Lupita Nyong’o, Julia Roberts, and Halle Berry also made the list with their timeless and memorable fashion choices. The 2024 Oscars will air on March 10.

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