On October 10, 2023, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued another extension (Second Temporary Rule) of its pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities “in light of the need to further evaluate the best course of action” with respect to the prescribing of controlled substances via telemedicine. DEA is issuing a limited extension in order to give itself more time to finalize new standards governing tele-prescribing of controlled substances.Continue Reading DEA Further Extends COVID-19 Telemedicine Prescribing Flexibilities through December 31, 2024

On October 13, 2023, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published Advisory Opinion 23-07 (Advisory Opinion), in which the OIG issued a favorable opinion regarding a physician group employer’s proposal to pay bonuses to its employed physicians based on net profits derived from certain procedures performed by the physicians at ambulatory surgery centers.Continue Reading OIG Issues Favorable Opinion Regarding Physician Group’s Proposal to Pay Bonuses to its Employed Physicians Based on Net Profits

This post is co-authored by Seth Orkand, co-chair of Robinson+Cole’s Government Enforcement and White-Collar Defense Team.

On June 1, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in the highest-profile False Claims Act (FCA) case for many years, concluding that a party’s subjective belief as to whether it overcharged Medicare and Medicaid

On May 9, 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary rule that extends pandemic-era flexibilities allowing prescribing of controlled substances based on a telehealth relationship, after receiving in excess of 38,000 comments on its March 1, 2023 proposed rules (previously discussed here) to extend certain of those flexibilities but allow others to end upon expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11, 2023.  The Temporary Rule provides the DEA with additional time to assess feedback on its proposed rules for post-pandemic tele-prescribing, and provides practitioners and patients with additional time to utilize pandemic-era flexibilities and to transition away from such flexibilities once final rules are issued.Continue Reading DEA Extends Pandemic Telehealth Prescribing Flexibilities For Up To 18 Months

On March 29, 2023, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office for the Eastern District of Michigan announced a notable set of three settlements (collectively, the Settlement) in excess of $69 million dollars total with a regional hospital system (Hospital) and two individual physicians, respectively.Continue Reading Stark Settlement Targeting Hospital and Physicians a Reminder for Health Care Organizations

On February 24, 2023, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a pair of proposed rules to make permanent certain “telemedicine flexibilities” related to the prescribing of controlled substances via telehealth that have been relied upon by prescribers and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The proposed rules respectively address (1) telemedicine prescribing of certain controlled substances without an in-person medical examination (Tele-Prescribing Rule), and (2) expansion of buprenorphine prescribing via telemedicine encounters (Buprenorphine Rule).  Below please find a high-level summary of the Tele-Prescribing Rule.  A separate post will follow addressing the Buprenorphine Rule in detail.Continue Reading As COVID-19 Emergency Waivers End, DEA Proposes to Expand Tele-Prescribing of Controlled Substances

On December 27, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule (Proposed Rule) which proposes certain policy and technical changes to Medicare regulations, including a notable change to the current standard under the “60-Day Rule” for identifying a Medicare overpayment. Specifically, CMS indicated that it is proposing to (i) “adopt by reference” the federal False Claims Act’s (FCA) definitions of “knowing” and “knowingly” as governing when an overpayment is identified, and (ii) eliminate the “reasonable diligence” standard that has been in place, but subject to challenges, for a number of years.Continue Reading No More Reasonable Diligence? CMS Proposes to Change Standard for Identifying Medicare Overpayments to Align with False Claims Act

On October 17, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $13 million settlement with health care services provider Sutter Health, which arose from alleged violations of the federal False Claims Act (FCA).  These alleged FCA violations relate to Sutter Health billing the United States for toxicology screening tests performed by other labs.Continue Reading DOJ Announces $13 Million Settlement Related to Improper Billing for Lab Tests

A physician in Washington state pled guilty on September 28, 2022, to a criminal charge of conspiring to accept kickbacks related to fraudulent genetic testing. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the physician ordered certain genetic testing for Medicare beneficiaries that he was not treating and with whom a physician-patient relationship was not established as part of the scheme. According to the plea agreement accepted by the physician, the physician would be connected by telemarketers to the beneficiaries for a few minutes, the physician would order the diagnostic test, the labs would then bill for the test, and another company billed Medicare for the purported telemedicine visit. The physician received almost $168,000 in kickbacks for ordering the medically-unnecessary testing and other services, which resulted in over $18 million being paid by Medicare.Continue Reading The DOJ Continues to Prosecute Providers for Fraudulent Telemarketing and Telehealth

On September 26, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $900 million settlement with pharmaceutical company Biogen Inc., which arose from alleged violations of the federal False Claims Act (FCA) and Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) tied to payments from the company to physicians, which were allegedly intended to induce prescription of Biogen’s drugs. The matter initiated as a qui tam whistleblower complaint filed by an employee under the FCA.Continue Reading DOJ Announces $900 Million Settlement Tied to Speaker Bureau Payments to Physicians