By Mathew J. Levy, Esq., & Stacey Lipitz Marder, Esq.Email Mathew Email Stacey
Investigations by Medicare and Medicaid are constantly on the rise. Each year, a Work Plan is published by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) (which is updated monthly) showing the priorities and major initiatives that it intends to investigate during the fiscal year. The OIG’s updated 2020 Work Plan has been announced on its website: https://oig.hhs.gov/.
The OIG has recently advised that it has added new items to its 2020 Work Plan addressing concerns surrounding COVID-19 treatment. As a result of COVID-19, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has made a number of changes that allow Medicare beneficiaries to access a wider range of telehealth services, and providers have been engaging in these new and innovative ways to treat patients. While these forms of treatment have certainly provided a great benefit to patients, the government is concerned that providers are taking advantage and not being compliant, putting patients at risk, and costing the government a significant amount of money.
As per the OIG’s most recent Work Plan, some of the key Target areas are as follows:
- The OIG will continue investigations of fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Such reviews often result in providers being subject to an overpayment demand, and potential prepayment audit review.
- The OIG will be reviewing the top 25 laboratory tests and analyzing the payments made under the new payment system.
- The OIG will continue to monitor and combat the current opioid crisis which remains a public health emergency. The OIG has expressed concern that individuals with opioid use disorder could be hit particularly hard by the current pandemic.
In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the OIG has further recently advised that it will be targeting the following areas:
- Audit of CMS’ controls over the expanded “Accelerated and Advance Payment Program,” which serves to provide healthcare providers and suppliers with emergency funding and address cash flow issues when there is a disruption in claims submission or claims processing.
- Review of Medicare and Medicaid telehealth utilization, including how the use of these services compares to the use of the same services delivered face-to-face, and the different types of providers and beneficiaries using telehealth services. The OIG will also be identifying program integrity risks with telehealth services. Data will also be reviewed in order to determine providers’ appropriate use and reimbursement during the COVID-19 pandemic in compliance with applicable state and federal law.
- Review of laboratory testing, specifically concerning add-on tests in conjunction with COVID-19 testing, particularly related to potentially fraudulent billing for associated respiratory pathogen panel (RPP) tests, allergy tests, and genetic tests.
For a complete list please refer to the OIG’s website.
Based upon the OIG’s updated Work Plan, healthcare providers need to be ever more diligent in assuring that services being provided and billed are compliant with applicable rules and regulations, including those relating to telehealth and COVID-19. Healthcare providers should review and update their current compliance programs, as well as educate their staff with respect to their compliance programs. Providers should consult with a coding/billing expert and work with their legal team to conduct internal and external audits to determine whether the practice is compliant. To assist providers in reaching these goals, Weiss Zarett Brofman Sonnenklar & Levy, P.C. is providing a free initial snap shot review with a certified coder. All providers should take advantage of this program. Establishing an effective compliance plan taking into consideration the OIG’s targeted areas, as well as applicable federal and state rules and regulations, can help providers avoid or limit potential liability. It is imperative that providers take compliance seriously as failure to comply can result in serious repercussions, including for instance an audit and subsequent overpayment demand in connection with services previously rendered and paid for, criminal action and potential loss of license.
Should you have any questions regarding the OIG Work Plan, compliance, or the free snap shot audit of documentation and coding please contact Mathew Levy at 516-627-7000 or [email protected] or Stacey Marder at 516-926-3319 or [email protected].
About the Authors:
Mathew J. Levy is a Partner of the firm and co-chairs the Firm’s corporate transaction and healthcare regulatory practice. Mr. Levy has extensive experience in, defending healthcare professionals in actions brought by State licensing authorities and the Federal agencies (OIG, Medicare, OMIG, Medicaid, DEA, OSHA, OCR OSHA, Hospital Review Boards, Office of Professional Medical Conduct and Office of Professional Discipline.) Mr. Levy has successfully defended numerous healthcare providers in actions involving the US Attorney’s Office investigations, Medicare Fraud Waste and Abuse investigations, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigations, OPMC, OPD, Medicare, Medicaid as well as commercial insurance audits including Prepayment Review, Post Payment Review, Medicare Hearings and Hospital Discipline Investigations.
Mr. Levy has successfully structured and negotiated joint venture agreements, private equity transactions, venture capital transactions, stock purchase agreements, asset sale agreements, shareholders agreements, partnership agreements, employment contracts, managed care agreements and commercial leases. Among the areas in which he focuses are coordinating mergers and acquisitions, compliance programs, ambulatory surgery centers, the establishment of diagnostic and treatment centers, HIPAA privacy regulations, fee-splitting issues, Stark law issues, fraud and abuse rules and regulations and Medicare/ Medicaid, Oxford, Americhoice, Fidelis, Healthfirst and other third-party payor settlements.
Stacey Lipitz Marder is Senior Counsel at Weiss Zarett Brofman Sonnenklar & Levy, P.C., with experience representing healthcare providers in connection with transactional and regulatory matters including the formation and structure of business entities, negotiating and drafting contracts and commercial real estate leases, stock and asset acquisitions and general corporate counseling. Ms. Marder also has experience advising healthcare clients on a wide range of regulatory issues including Stark, the Anti-Kickback Statute, fraud and abuse regulations, HIPAA, reimbursement and licensing matters.
Weiss Zarett Brofman Sonnenklar & Levy, P.C. is a Long Island law firm providing a wide array of legal services to the members of the health care industry, including corporate and transactional matters, civil and administrative litigation, healthcare regulatory issues, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, and commercial real estate transactions.
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