Kusserow on Compliance: OIG Strategic plan outlines top priorities for 2020 – 2025

 The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has identified seven major initiatives as part of its strategic plan for the period between 2020 and 2025. The initiatives include: (1) fraud and abuse protections; (2) safeguarding the Medicare trust funds; (3) protecting beneficiaries from prescription drug abuse; (4) combating health care cybersecurity threats; (5) promoting patient safety and accuracy of payments in home and community settings; (6) leveraging technology; and (7) ensuring HHS managed care and new health care models produce value.

  1. Fraud and Abuse Protections. OIG audits of national Medicaid data found substantial improper payments to providers for Medicaid Services; states were not always correctly determining lack of eligibility of individuals for Medicaid benefits. These two areas will be a focus for OIG oversight.
  2. Safeguarding the Medicare Trust Funds. The OIG plans to use data analytics to identify program areas and geographic areas of high-risk. It should provide strategic oversight of emergency preparedness and response affecting Medicare beneficiaries, Medicare Advantage, prescription drug spending, and the transition to value-based care.
  3. Protecting Beneficiaries from Prescription Drug Abuse, Including Opioids. The OIG’s efforts will focus on identifying opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of monitoring and identifying and holding accountable those engaged in fraud and abuse related to prescription drugs. Major efforts will include empowering partners through data sharing and education.
  1. Combatting Health Care Cybersecurity Threats. The OIG will increase efforts to combat cybersecurity threats, including hacking attacks, manipulation of medical devices, and inappropriate access to U.S. genomic data. The OIG will perform more cybersecurity audits of HHS agencies and programs, in partnership with other agencies, to conduct investigations that may involve espionage or foreign threats.
  1. Promoting Patient Safety and Accuracy of Payments in Home and Community Settings. The OIG plans increased efforts to reduce improper payments for services in noninstitutional settings, including home health. The OIG’s plans include outreach, education, audits, evaluations, inspections, investigations, and administrative enforcement.
  1. Leveraging Technology as it Intersects with HHS Programs. The OIG highlights that technology can be used to increase the efficiency, quality, and accessibility of the health care system. The OIG will work with other HHS agencies, patients, and providers to educate and oversee the use of health technology to positively impact providers and patients. The OIG will also assess how it can use Artificial Intelligence to foster value and quality in HHS programs.
  1. Ensuring HHS Managed Care and New Healthcare Models Produce Value. As CMS programs shift to value-based care and payment, the OIG has identified three elements that are critical to achieving better value, quality, and outcomes: (1) aligning program incentives with improved health outcomes; (2) strengthening program integrity; and (3) delivering innovative technology. The OIG will oversee the continued transition to value-based programs and will address and combat any issues of fraud, waste, and abuse.

 

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.

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

Kusserow on Compliance: Continued confusion regarding the CMS preclusion list

Those on list are prohibited from MA Plans or Part D Sponsors payment

Questions continue arise concerning the CMS Preclusion List final rule. The Preclusion List is a list generated by CMS that contains the names of prescribers, individuals, and entities that are unable to receive payment for Medicare Advantage (MA) items and service and or Part D drugs prescribed or provided to Medicare beneficiaries. The rule mandates Part D sponsors, or their pharmacy benefit managers, to screen against the Preclusion List and reject any pharmacy claim prescribed by an individual or entity on it. MA plans must deny payment for a health care item or service furnished by an individual or entity on the list. Plans and sponsors must also notify impacted beneficiaries who received care or a prescription from a provider on the Preclusion List in the last twelve months. The list includes those who are currently revoked from Medicare, are under an active reenrollment bar, and whose underlying conduct CMS has determined to be detrimental to the Medicare program; or have engaged in behavior for which CMS could have revoked the prescriber and determined the underlying conduct would have led to the revocation. Such conduct includes, but is not limited to: felony convictions and OIG exclusions. CMS indicated that individuals or entities appearing on the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE) and/or the System for Award Management (SAM) list would also be placed on the Preclusion List.

MA plans and Part D sponsors are required to access the list through an Enterprise Identity Data Management (EIDM) account with CMS. The list is updated monthly.  The causes for most of the confusion is that only plans approved by CMS are granted access to the Preclusion List. As a result, many if not most, organizations use a vendor for sanction screening services. However, the vendors are not always given access to the List.  The way around this obstacle has been for Plans to give their vendor the list and have them include it in their screening services. Another point of confusion is that technically, it is not a sanction list. It includes many parties who have not been formally sanctioned to be included on the OIG LEIE, although many on the list are also on the LEIE.

 

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: Ninth Circuit reinstates unnecessary admissions whistleblower case

Federal Court established grounds for “medical necessity” fraud cases

A compliance high-risk area worthy of attention

On March 23, 2020, the Ninth Circuit reinstated a False Claims Act (ACA) “whistleblower” suit alleging a hospital and various physicians orchestrated medically unnecessary inpatient admissions resulting in the submission of more than $1.2 million in false claims to Medicare. This reversed the District Court ruling that FCA allegations failed because “subjective medical opinions…cannot be proved objectively false.”

The Circuit Court decision follows others that established the lack of “medical necessity” claims can proceed under the FCA. The qui tam relator in the case alleged that certain admissions to the hospital were not medically necessary and were in fact contraindicated by the patients’ medical records and the hospital’s admission criteria. As a result, the hospital allegedly submitted, or caused to be submitted, Medicare claims that falsely certified that patients’ hospitalizations were medically necessary. The relator was a nurse who reported 65 admissions that “failed to satisfy the hospital’s own admissions criteria” and noted that the admission rate from related nursing homes with was over 80 percent during the relevant time period. The nursing home operator had acquired fifty percent ownership in the hospital that resulted in a spike in admissions from those facilities. After repeatedly attempts to bring the issue to the attention of management, she was fired.

The Court held that a physician’s clinical opinion must be judged by the same standard as any other representation, including whether the physician: (1) knows the clinical opinion to be false; or (2) renders the opinion in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity. This means that a physician’s certification that inpatient hospitalization was “medically necessary” can be false or fraudulent as any opinion that is not honestly held. In short, a false certification of medical necessity can therefore give rise to FCA liability.

Compliance officers at any hospital should make this message known to the executive leadership and medical staff.

 

 

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.

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

Kusserow on Compliance: OIG program exclusions reported for second half of 2019

Total of 2640 new exclusions added to the LEIE in 2019

Under the Social Security Act, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) is able to exclude individuals and entities from participation in Medicare, Medicaid, and other Federal health care programs. Exclusions are required (mandatory exclusion) for individuals and entities convicted of the following types of criminal offenses: (1) Medicare or Medicaid fraud; (2) patient abuse or neglect; (3) felonies for other health care fraud; and (4) felonies for illegal manufacture, distribution, prescription, or dispensing of controlled substances. The OIG is also authorized (permissive exclusion) to exclude individuals and entities on several other grounds, including misdemeanors for other health care fraud (other than Medicare or Medicaid); suspension or revocation of a license to provide health care for reasons bearing on professional competence, professional performance or financial integrity; provision of unnecessary or substandard services; submission of false or fraudulent claims to a federal health care program; or engaging in unlawful kickback arrangements. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) added another basis for imposing a permissive exclusion, that is, knowingly making, or causing to be made, any false statements or omissions in any application, bid, or contract to participate as a provider in a federal health care program, including managed care programs under Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Medicare’s prescription drug program.

During this semiannual reporting period, the OIG excluded 1,347 individuals and entities from Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs. Most of the exclusions resulted from convictions for crimes relating to Medicare or Medicaid, patient abuse or neglect, financial misconduct, controlled substances, or as a result of license revocation. The OIG completed the deployment of a new service for State Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs) to report convictions through a central web-based portal for exclusion. This improved reporting from those agencies. A list of excluded individuals and entities can be found at https://exclusions.oig.hhs.gov/.

 

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.