Miami Herald, October 11, 2011

When Carol Flatto saw that Medicare was paying $4,500 a month for her father?s hospice care on Miami Beach, she was astounded. Her father, Edwin, 90, a retired doctor, was already paying $1,900 out of his own pocket for a private room at the Hebrew Home of South Beach and three supervised meals a day, tended by aides with a registered nurse on duty. As his Parkinson?s disease worsened, Carol hired private caregivers to be in his room around the clock ? another $7,600 a month she paid herself. Yet starting last December, after doctors recommended hospice care, Odyssey Healthcare, a for-profit company in West Dade, collected from Medicare fees of more than $150 a day in addition to what the Flatto family was already paying for Edwin?s care. The only additional service she saw: a hospice nurse who stopped by his Hebrew Home room for 15 minutes several times a month. After Edwin Flatto died in July, records showed that Medicare had paid Odyssey $35,043 for his care, including various miscellaneous claims. ?Ridiculous,? says Flatto. Her complaint echoes a stern warning in July from a federal watchdog agency that Medicare is paying far too much for hospice care in nursing homes. Several investigations into Odyssey by the federal government and the states of Texas and Georgia are pending.

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