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Homeostasis: Health Care Law Blog

Homeostasis: Health Care Law Blog

Contributors

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Launches New Opioid-Related Initiatives

Following President Trump’s signature on broad federal legislation to combat the opioid crisis in the U.S., the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced two initiatives to further reduce opioid-related deaths. On October 25, 2018, DHHS’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) expanded its Medicare Strike Forces to address improper opioid prescriptions, and the DHHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published Guidance to prevent discrimination against individuals seeking treatment for opioid use disorder. Read More ›

Back to the Old Regime: The DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Newest Compliance Approach

On October 12, 2018, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski spoke at the NYU School of Law where he announced new guidelines regarding the procedures governing corporate compliance and monitorships.[1] While most of the attention has been on the new criteria for selecting corporate monitors, AAG Benczkowski also announced that the DOJ will not be hiring new corporate compliance counsel within the Criminal Division, a break from the practices of the previous administration. Read More ›

CMS to Enhance Oversight of Accrediting Organizations

On October 4, 2018, CMS informed the public about several new enhancements to its oversight of accrediting organizations (AOs) and increased transparency regarding AO Performance. Health care providers that obtain Medicare certification via deemed status may find that AOs will be more conscientious than ever about ensuring that the provider satisfies all Medicare Conditions of Participation (COP) in addition to all AO internal standards. Read More ›

OIG Criticism of IRF Practices May Generate Enhanced CMS Scrutiny of IRF Medicare Claims

In September 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report criticizing in-patient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) for improper claims to Medicare. SeeMany Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Stays Did Not Meet Medicare Coverage And Documentation Requirements, A-01-15-00500.” The report estimated that in 2013 Medicare paid IRFs $5.7 billion for care that was not reasonable and necessary. OIG recommended that CMS increase its oversight of IRF compliance with Medicare coverage and documentation requirements, and CMS concurred. As a result, IRFs can expect enhanced CMS scrutiny of its claims. Read More ›

Reading the Tea Leaves: Understanding OIG Priorities

The Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“OIG”) issues work plans (“Work Plan”) that addresses priority areas and emerging issues. For many years, the OIG published its Work Plan every two years with intermediate updates published once or twice each calendar year. Beginning on June 15, 2017, however, the OIG changed its practice and publishes the Work Plan on a monthly basis. These monthly updates are published through the OIG’s Work Plan website. Read More ›

New Michigan Medicaid OIG Post-Payment Audits Coming

On August 15, 2018, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced the initiation of post-payment claims audits to identify and recover overpayments made to Medicaid providers. These audits will be overseen by the MDHHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) and will be conducted by AdvanceMed, the Midwestern Unified Program Integrity Contractor (UPIC) for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The audits will come in two forms: automated and complex. Automated audits will not require review of clinical records, while complex ones will. AdvanceMed may not request more than 150 records per request, or 500 in a three-month period by billing NPI. Providers will not be reimbursed for the cost of producing requested records. In addition to record reviews, AdvanceMed may conduct interviews of providers and beneficiaries, and on-site visits. Read More ›

Nursing Home Closures: Legal and Practical Issues Under Federal and Illinois Law

Nursing homes may close for a variety of business and legal reasons, including but not limited to:

  1. The owner decides that the real estate may have more value as a different type of property, considering its alternative highest and best use.
  2. Facility financial issues/pressures do not justify its existence as a going concern (market reasons, reimbursement problems, poor management, et. al.).
  3. Forced closing related to quality of care issues.

To follow is a brief discussion of the legal and practical issues to consider when contemplating a closure. Failure to comply with legal requirements could lead to significant liability. Read More ›

Hospice Providers Take Note: OIG Highlights Compliance Vulnerabilities in the Medicare Hospice Benefit

For a number of years, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published concerns about the quality of Medicare-certified hospice providers and about fraud and abuse in the Medicare hospice benefit program. On July 31, 2018, the OIG consolidated its concerns into a portfolio “Vulnerabilities in the Medicare Hospice Program Affect Quality Care and Program Integrity: A Portfolio” (OEI-02-16-00570). While neither the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) nor the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization agree with all of the OIG’s concerns or recommended fixes, the OIG is steadfast. Hospice providers can expect continued OIG scrutiny of both industry and individual provider practices, as well as continued OIG effort to effect structural change in the Medicare hospice benefit to improve program integrity. Read More ›

Changes Coming to the Michigan Medicaid Nursing Facility Level of Care Determination Process

The Michigan Medicaid program is proposing to modify its Nursing Facility Level of Care Determination (LOCD) effective November 1, 2018. See Proposed Policy 1819-LOCD—Level of Care Determination (LOCD) Process Improvements. The Nursing Facility LOCD is used to determine an individual’s eligibility for a variety of Medicaid long-term care benefits: nursing facility care, MI Choice Waiver programs, Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), and MI Health Link. It determines whether an individual meets the medical/functional criteria for Medicaid payment for these services. Providers that do not properly complete a LOCD when needed may not bill the Medicaid program for services provided to the applicable individual, and are subject to retroactive recoupment of payments received and potential False Claims Act allegations.

The principle proposed modifications to the LOCD are: Read More ›

Act Now to Protect Your Two Percent!

The IMPACT Act of 2014 requires skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to submit quality data to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS). Failure to do so on a timely basis will shave two percent off the SNF’s Medicare reimbursement for the next federal fiscal year. Read More ›