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  • Writer's pictureJames A. Gustino

It is despicable when greedy hospice owners submit claims for Medicare/Medicaid services never provided to the dying, but unfortunately this type of case is not uncommon.

//Hospice Owner Sentenced to 240 Months Imprisonment and Ordered to Repay $42,000,000 for Defrauding Medicare


U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that on May 15, 2024, U.S. District Judge Lance Africk sentenced SHIVA AKULA (“AKULA”), age 68, of New Orleans, to 240 months of imprisonment, three years of supervised release and $2,300 in mandatory special assessment fees, in relation to an extensive health care fraud scheme orchestrated by AKULA.  In November 2023, a federal jury convicted AKULA of all 23 counts of his underlying indictment.  AKULA owned and oversaw the day-to-day operations of Canon Healthcare, LLC, a hospice facility with offices in the New Orleans area, Baton Rouge, Covington, and Gulfport, Mississippi.  At sentencing, the Court found that between January 2013 and December 2019, Canon billed Medicare approximately $84 million in fraudulent claims and was paid approximately $42 million relating to these fraudulent claims.  The Court ordered that AKULA repay the $42 million of fraudulent proceeds back to Medicare.


On November 6, 2023, a jury convicted AKULA on all 23 counts of health care fraud charged in the indictment relating to overbilling for hospice patients for expensive General Inpatient (“GIP”) services and for multiple counts related to manipulating Medicare billing codes, known as Common Procedural Terminology (“CPT”) codes despite such services being medically unnecessary, or despite their inclusion in the daily hospice benefit Canon already received for its patients.  


“Today’s sentencing signals the end of a long, complicated, and challenging prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.  “However, this conclusion exhibits our commitment to fighting health care fraud in our district. Our office, along with our investigative partners, will continue to work diligently to preserve taxpayer confidence in our medical institutions and seek justice for all victims of fraud.”


“Shiva Akula showed no regard for quality end-of-life hospice care,” said Jason E. Meadows, Special Agent in Charge at the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).  “Instead, Akula’s motivation centered around multiple fraud schemes to maximize profit and steal from American taxpayers.  HHS-OIG will continue to work with our federal and state law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold accountable those who steal from Medicare and other federal health care programs.”


“Each fraudulent claim filed by Mr. Akula potentially deprived another deserving and suffering individual from the emotional and physical comfort of end-of-life care,” said Special Agent in Charge Lyonel Myrthil of the FBI New Orleans Division.//



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