SAN DIEGO—The largest hospice program in San Diego County may lay off hundreds of employees to cope with financial problems because it may have violated Medicare regulations.

U-T San Diego ( says San Diego Hospice temporarily stopped accepting new patients over the weekend.

The hospice provides care for 4,000 patients a year but Chief Executive Kathleen Pacurar says it may have to return millions of dollars in Medicare funding because it hasn't been strict enough in making sure that it only accepts patients who are likely to die within six months.

She says the hospice, which had a federal audit, may have to eliminate 200 employees next year, although bedside workers won't be cut.

Hospice care nationwide is under scrutiny over its costs, which increased 56 percent from 2005 to 2009.


Information from: U-T San Diego,