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Passages Hospice Founder Faces Health Fraud Charges

01/29/2014

Seth Gillman, founder and partial owner of Passages Hospice LLC, has been charged with health care fraud. According to prosecutors, Gillman knowingly over-billed the government for hospice care for Illinois seniors.

“Give patients everything they need, even that little extra that makes life worth living,” Gillman told Life Matters Media in November during the unveiling of an end of life care initiative backed by the National Institute for Nursing Research. But according to the fraud charges released Monday, federal prosecutors allege Gillman was not so selfless.

According to the charges, Gillman engaged in an elaborate scheme to obtain higher Medicare and Medicaid payments by fraudulently elevating the level of hospice care for patients, many of whom resided at nursing homes he also controlled across the state. Some patients were not terminally ill, and they wound up enrolled in hospice care far longer than the required life expectancy of six months or less.

Gillman also allegedly trained nurses to look for signs that would qualify a hospice patient for general inpatient care (GIP). For fiscal year 2012, Medicare’s daily reimbursement for GIP was $671.84, while the daily payment for routine care was much lower at $151.23.

From 2006 to late 2011, Passages submitted claims for about 4,700 patients to Medicare and Medicaid and was paid approximately $95 million from Medicare and approximately $30 million from Medicaid. Between July 2008 and late 2011, Passages was paid $23 million by Medicare for GIP services, in addition to Medicaid payments for similar services submitted on behalf of about 200 patients.

Gillman, 46, of Lincolnwood, IL was charged with one count each of health care fraud and obstructing a federal audit in a criminal complaint that was filed in U.S. District Court late last week.

Gillman, an attorney who founded Passages after witnessing his grandmother’s poor end of life care in a hospice in south Florida, is the corporate agent, administrator and one-fourth owner of Lisle-based Passages Hospice LLC. He is the agent and secretary of Asta Healthcare Company Inc., which operates a handful of Asta Care Center nursing homes across the state– Passages did not have its own inpatient facility but instead deployed nurses to visit hospice patients in nursing homes and private residences.

Passages is a fast-growing care network

Passages is a fast-growing care network based in Illinois

Passages declined to return numerous phone calls from Life Matters Media seeking comment. The hospice’s website makes no mention of Gillman’s legal troubles; the company’s official Twitter account continues to advertise their services.

“The complaint was brought only against Seth Gillman, not Passages,” said Katten Muchin Rosenman Partner Gil Soffer, who represents Passages, in a statement to LMM. “The period of alleged misconduct set forth in the complaint ended in January 2012, more than two years ago. The company continues to provide high quality care to its patients.”

According to the FBI, federal agents have interviewed patients, family members and more than 30 former and current employees of Passages, including several who reported allegedly fraudulent billing and marketing practices to Medicare or law enforcement.

If convicted of health care fraud, Gillman could face a penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of obstructing a federal audit, Gillman could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hospice is generally care provided in a patient’s home, but can also be provided in a center, hospital, nursing home or other long-term care facility for people facing illness near the end of life. The number of hospice patients served has risen more than 25 percent over the last five years from 1.25 million in 2008, according to figures published by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in the organization’s 2013 annual publication “Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America.”

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3 thoughts on “Passages Hospice Founder Faces Health Fraud Charges

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is about time! Finally a little justice! The whole company continues to be corrupt!

  2. anono says:

    this company is a God given vision given to a man with a heart of Gold. it has been a Blessing to so many people, family and patients. its a competitive world and no other Hospice company has provided the care and dedication as this company “Passages Hospice has. enough with the hear say, go to the source. meaning the loves ones of the patients cared for. Real life stories of how , one could not make it in time to be with there mother or father but passages was there , working around the clock to ensure comfort to their loved one…and the list goes on. To Seth and Family we know the kind of man you are an I Believe God has your Back. Passages hospice set a new standard For Hospice. .Passages Hospice will prevail.

  3. Seth and his father are the corrupt, unethical, and fraudulent people I recognized them as. I personally know of two people who were put on their Hospice program: one because she had AIDS (Seth’s comment “Do you know how much I get for AIDS cases?” and one who accused the ASTA nursing facility of taking her cash from her home. When I discussed this resident with Michael Gillman, The lady was suddenly placed on Hospice (Passages of course) related to ‘altered mental status. I was overjoyed to see the news that the Gillman family may get what’s coming to them!!

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Daniel Gaitan serves as a content producer...More