Kusserow on Compliance: OIG plans 2021 evaluation of nursing home discharge requirements

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced it is planning in 2021 to examine the extent to which nursing homes meet CMS requirements for facility-initiated discharges. In its announcement, the OIG noted that a facility-initiated transfer or discharge of a resident from a nursing home can be an unsafe and traumatic experience for the resident and his or her family. In response to this concern, Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 to protect residents against inappropriate facility-initiated transfer and discharge.

However, data from the National Ombudsman Reporting System show, from 2011 through 2016, cited complaints related to “discharge/eviction” more frequently than any other concern. The OIG also took note of the media reports that highlighted the rise in nursing home evictions and complaints about the discharge process. Past reviews found varying reasons for non-compliant discharges. Some discharges are driven by changes to payment source, but the most frequently reported discharge reason relates to residents that are discharged due to “behavioral, mental, and/or emotional expressions or indications of resident distress.” This includes facilities discharging residents while they are hospitalized related to these behaviors as the basis for discharge. The most common discharge violations included: (1) placement in a questionable/unsafe setting; (2) where a resident remains hospitalized; and (e) where there is a pattern of discharge violations in the facility, among other issues.

The OIG has long monitored the extent to which state long-term care ombudsmen, state survey agencies, and CMS address facility-initiated discharges from nursing homes.  As part of its ongoing work in this area, it will, in 2021, be further examining the extent to which nursing homes meet CMS requirements for facility-initiated discharges. Nursing Home Compliance Officers should take note of this and build a review of this compliance issue in their 2021 workplan.

 

Richard P. Kusserow served as DHHS Inspector General for 11 years. He currently is CEO of Strategic Management Services, LLC (SM), a firm that has assisted more than 3,000 organizations and entities with compliance related matters. The SM sister company, CRC, provides a wide range of compliance tools including sanction-screening.

Connect with Richard Kusserow on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Kusserow on Compliance Newsletter

Copyright © 2020 Strategic Management Services, LLC. Published with permission.

Kusserow on Compliance: The OIG announces plan to begin auditing the Two-Midnight Rule

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced that it will begin auditing short stay claims again, and when appropriate, recommend overpayment collections. The agency’s previous audits identified millions of dollars in overpayments for inpatient claims with short lengths of stay. The OIG found that many have billed stays as inpatient claims when they should have been billed as outpatient claims, which usually results in a lower payment.

To reduce inpatient admission errors, CMS implemented the Two-Midnight Rule in 2014. CMS generally considered it inappropriate to receive payment under the inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) for stays not expected to span at least two midnights. The only procedures excluded from the rule were newly initiated mechanical ventilation and any procedures appearing on the Inpatient Only List. Revisions were made to the Two-Midnight Rule after its implementation.

The OIG plans to once again audit hospital inpatient claims after the implementation of and revisions to the Two-Midnight Rule. The objective is to determine whether inpatient claims with short lengths of stay were incorrectly billed as inpatient and should have been billed as outpatient or outpatient with observation. The OIG also plans to review policies and procedures for enforcing the Two-Midnight Rule at the administrative level and contractor level. With this new initiative, hospital Compliance Officers should consider focusing on this issue as part of their 2021 work plan.

Richard P. Kusserow served as DHHS Inspector General for 11 years. He currently is CEO of Strategic Management Services, LLC (SM), a firm that has assisted more than 3,000 organizations and entities with compliance related matters. The SM sister company, CRC, provides a wide range of compliance tools including sanction-screening.

Connect with Richard Kusserow on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Kusserow on Compliance Newsletter

Copyright © 2020 Strategic Management Services, LLC. Published with permission.

Kusserow on Compliance: OIG reports top unimplemented recommendations

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) Top Unimplemented Recommendations: Solutions to Reduce Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in HHS Programs is an annual OIG publication. These recommendations, if implemented, are ones that would most positively impact HHS programs in terms of cost savings, program effectiveness and efficiency, and public health and safety. All were derived from audits and evaluations issued through December 31, 2019, which predated the COVID-19 public health emergency. Fourteen of the 25 were related to Medicare and Medicaid. The recommendations called for CMS to:

  1. Take actions to ensure that incidents of potential abuse or neglect of Medicare beneficiaries are identified and reported.
  2. Reevaluate the inpatient rehabilitation facility payment system, which could include seeking legislative authority to make any changes necessary to more closely align inpatient rehabilitation facility payment rates and costs.
  3. Seek legislative authority to comprehensively reform the hospital wage index system.
  4. Seek legislative authority to implement least costly alternative policies for Part B drugs under appropriate circumstances.
  5. Provide consumers with additional information about hospices’ performance via Hospice Compare.
  6. Continue to work with the Accredited Standards Committee X12 to ensure that medical device-specific information is included on claim forms and require hospitals to use certain condition codes for reporting device replacement procedures.
  7. Analyze the potential impacts of counting time spent as an outpatient toward the three-night requirement for skilled nursing facility (SNF) services so that beneficiaries receiving similar hospital care have similar access to these services.
  8. Provide targeted oversight of Medicare Advantage organizations (MAOs) that had risk adjusted payments resulting from unlinked chart reviews for beneficiaries who had no service records in the 2016 encounter data.
  9. Require MAOs to submit ordering and referring provider identifiers for applicable records in the encounter data.
  10. Develop and execute a strategy to ensure that Part D does not pay for drugs that should be covered by the Part A hospice benefit.
  11. Ensure that States’ reporting of national Medicaid data is complete, accurate, and timely.
  12. Collaborate with partners to develop strategies for improving rates of follow-up care for children treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  13. Develop policies and procedures to improve the timeliness of recovering Medicaid overpayments and recover uncollected amounts identified by OIG’s audits.
  14. Identify States that have limited availability of behavioral health services and develop strategies and share information to ensure that Medicaid managed care enrollees have timely access to these services.

Richard P. Kusserow served as DHHS Inspector General for 11 years. He currently is CEO of Strategic Management Services, LLC (SM), a firm that has assisted more than 3,000 organizations and entities with compliance related matters. The SM sister company, CRC, provides a wide range of compliance tools including sanction-screening.

Connect with Richard Kusserow on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Kusserow on Compliance Newsletter

Copyright © 2020 Strategic Management Services, LLC. Published with permission.

Kusserow on Compliance: Medicare overpaid hospitals $267M for post-acute care transfers to home health

An HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit identified 89,213 inpatient claims totaling $948 million at risk of overpayment because of hospital transfer policies to home health agencies for post-acute care. The OIG selected a stratified sample of 150 claims which was reviewed by an independent medical review contractor to assess the relatedness of the home health services to the hospital admission. The review found that Medicare improperly paid most inpatient claims subject to the transfer policy when beneficiaries resumed home health services within 3 days of discharge. Hospitals failed to code the inpatient claim as a discharge to home health services when the hospitals applied condition codes 42 (home health not related to inpatient stay) or 43 (home health not within 3 days of discharge). Of the 150 inpatient claims in the sample, Medicare properly paid for just three claims. As a result, CMS improperly paid for 147 claims, for a total of $722,288 in overpayments. Medicare should have paid these inpatient claims using a graduated per diem rate rather than the full payment. The OIG estimated that Medicare improperly paid $267 million during a 2-year period for hospital services that should have been paid a graduated per diem payment.

Prior OIG audits identified Medicare overpayments to hospitals that did not comply with Medicare’s post-acute-care transfer policy and in response CMS instituted new corrective actions into the system. The OIG later found the policies were still not properly designed. The result is that hospitals may be using condition codes to bypass CMS’s system edits to receive higher reimbursements for inpatients transferred to home health services. Compliance officers should consider this—the transfer of patients from hospital in-patient care to post-acute care at home health agencies—as a risk area warranting an internal review.

 

Richard P. Kusserow served as DHHS Inspector General for 11 years. He currently is CEO of Strategic Management Services, LLC (SM), a firm that has assisted more than 3,000 organizations and entities with compliance related matters. The SM sister company, CRC, provides a wide range of compliance tools including sanction-screening.

Connect with Richard Kusserow on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Kusserow on Compliance Newsletter

Copyright © 2020 Strategic Management Services, LLC. Published with permission.