Dear Editor:

On the afternoon of Thursday, June 18, 2015 the Department of Justice released a statement regarding errors in Covenant Hospice billing methods during 2009 and 2010. The language used in the press release from the Department of Justice was very harsh, rigid, and not 100% accurate. While it is true that errors were made, they were unintentional and immediately self-reported to the Department of Justice by our organization.  Covenant Hospice petitions the readers to:

1)      Please read with an open mind

2)      Be fair

3)      Donít jump to conclusions

Hospice care is provided at four different levels: routine home care, continuous home care, inpatient respite care and general inpatient. General inpatient care is paid at a higher rate than routine home care. During 2009 and 2010, some Covenant Hospice offices submitted general inpatient claims on a number of patients. While these patients were hospice appropriate and admitted into a hospital to receive their hospice care, the medical records documentation only supported the routine home level of care criteria.  This means that the correct and billed level of care was provided.  The error was in the lack of supporting documentation. 

Upon discovery, Covenant Hospice self-reported this information to the Department of Justice and conducted extensive training with the entire staff. We also revamped the compliance program to infuse a renewed culture of compliance from the Hospice Aide to the CEO. Compliance is a public trust that we will uphold with zero tolerance for any violation of that trust.

We have been working closely with the Office of the Inspector General to return these payments. We settled with the Department of Justice on the common law theory of payment by mistake. The United States releases Covenant from any civil claim. The settlement did require a repayment, but this repayment has no impact whatsoever on our current ability to serve. In fact, we continue to grow and expand our family of Covenant Care services.

We are so thankful for the support of our local communities.  If Covenant Hospice has touched your family or friends please help us remind everyone that Covenant Hospice was not charged with any wrong doing and that the level of care that was billed for was provided; our error was in the documentation.  

Jennifer Griffin

Marianna, FL