SD Hospice

It was another grim day for San Diego Hospice in bankruptcy court Wednesday as a few of  the hospice’s remaining employees listened as attorneys made arguments over how its remaining assets will be divided.

The federal government is by far the hospice’s largest creditor, making a $112.8 million claim against what was once California’s largest hospice provider.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice filed the claim against the hospice for submitting “false claims,” among other things, for payments made in 2009 and 2010.

The federal government also indicated it’s conducting a criminal investigation “to determine whether any federal health care offenses... have been committed.”

The hospice filed for bankruptcy earlier this year blaming much of its demise on the Medicare audit.

Most hospice care is paid for by Medicare – by definition it’s for people with six months or less to live.

It’s not likely the government will get much of its $112 million claim. There’s a long list of employees, healthcare companies, banks and attorneys all wanting a share of the hospice’s remaining assets — which currently is only worth about $16 million.

The bankruptcy court continues to hear arguments about who is entitled to some of that money and in what order. Attorneys say it’s not likely anyone will see any of the cash before next year.

Joanne Faryon is a freelance reporter and former inewsource and KPBS reporter.