Government Enforcement

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently released a Data Brief summarizing the findings of a review of program integrity risks related to telehealth services reimbursed by Medicare during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (the Pandemic).[1] The OIG analyzed Medicare and Medicare Advantage claims data from March 1, 2020, to February 28, 2021, focusing on providers that billed for telehealth services, with an emphasis on identifying providers that posed a high risk to the Medicare program.

Continue Reading OIG Releases Data Brief on Medicare Telehealth Program Integrity Risks During the First Year of the Pandemic

HHS-OIG issued a new Special Fraud Alert on relationships with “purported telemedicine companies” on July 20, 2022. The Special Fraud Alert comes on the heels of a nationally coordinated takedown charging dozens of individuals criminally for their participation in an allegedly fraudulent scheme related to telemedicine, laboratories, and durable medical equipment (“DME”).[1] However, the alert comes after focus on telemedicine fraud cases in particular since 2019. The Special Fraud Alert identifies several characteristics of concern and common elements that individuals and companies should be aware of.

Continue Reading Suspect Characteristics Identified under a Telehealth Special Fraud Alert

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued new guidance (Guidance) on the use of remote communication technologies to deliver audio-only telehealth in accordance with HIPAA. Per OCR, the Guidance is intended to ensure continued access for patients to audio-only telehealth in a secure and compliant manner, particularly once OCR’s notification of enforcement discretion (previously discussed here) tied to the COVID-19 pandemic is rescinded (i.e., once the HHS-declared COVID-19 public health emergency is ended).

Continue Reading HHS Issues HIPAA Guidance to Support Audio-Only Telehealth Services

On June 2, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission announced a pair of antitrust enforcement actions to block pending health system transactions that, according to it, would harm competition in the provision of inpatient general acute care hospital services.

Continue Reading FTC Takes Action to Block Hospital Transactions in Utah and New Jersey

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont recently signed into law Public Act No. 22-58, “An Act Concerning the Department of Public Health’s Recommendations Regarding Various Revisions to the Public Health Statutes” (the Act). The Act is an omnibus bill that includes a number of notable updates to state laws concerning health care and hospitals, certain of which are summarized below.

Continue Reading Connecticut Enacts Legislation Making Various Changes to Public Health Laws

Certain COVID-19 emergency declaration blanket waivers are being phased out by the federal government, and health care providers should take steps to determine whether current arrangements are compliant. As background, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency CMS previously enacted extensive temporary COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have now determined that various regulatory requirements must be restored in order to protect the health and safety of residents in long-term care facilities.

Continue Reading NOTICE TO PROVIDERS: CMS Phasing Out Certain COVID-19 Regulatory Waivers in Long-Term Care Facilities, Hospices, and ESRD Facilities

On March 30, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Manual J. Bojorquez, the owner of a marketing company, was sentenced to 36 months’ probation and ordered to pay restitution of $3.3 million for his role in a kickback scheme. The sentencing follows a plea agreement by Mr. Bojorquez in which he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the federal anti-kickback statute. According to the DOJ and court documents, Mr. Bojorquez, through his company, provided marketing services to various compounding pharmacies. Mr. Bojorquez’s company conspired with the compounding pharmacies to pay kickbacks to physicians in exchange for those physicians referring prescriptions to the compounding pharmacies. The compounding pharmacies then paid Mr. Bojorquez (through various shell companies) a percentage (approximately 45%) of the fees generated from the prescriptions referred by the physicians. The pharmacies billed and received payment from the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Workers Compensation Program, which is a federal health care benefit program. Over the course of the conspiracy, the DOL paid over $8 million for the kickback-induced prescriptions.

Continue Reading Marketer in Kickback Scheme Involving Compound Pharmacies Sentenced to Probation and Order to Pay $3.3 Million

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) recently released a “Dear Administrator Letter” (DAL) DHCSB 22-02 for Licensed Home Care Services Agencies (LCHSAs).  The DAL addresses guidance and procedures for LCHAs as they relate to certain administrative licensure amendments.  Such amendments include changing the service, county of operation, sites, address of agency or operator, the corporate name or assumed name (d/b/a), or closing a site.
Continue Reading New York State Department of Health Releases Administrative Guidance for LCHSAs’ Licensure Amendments

Effective February 3, 2022, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (BoRM), which oversees physician licensure and the practice of medicine, updated its “Policy on Telemedicine in the Commonwealth” (Policy) to provide more guidance for licensed physicians on utilization of telemedicine in practice. BoRM initially issued this Policy in 2020 in connection with the onset of COVID-19 and the significant corresponding expansion of telemedicine and other telehealth care delivery models for patients and providers.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Updates State Telemedicine Guidance for Physicians

On February 28, 2022, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued data on information blocking claims received since April 5, 2021, the effective date of information blocking regulations enacted under the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act). As a reminder, in accordance with the Cures Act’s prohibition on certain information blocking practices, in 2020 ONC issued a pair of rules (available here and here) to implement information blocking regulations (now found at 45 CFR Part 171).  Due to COVID-related delays, ONC ultimately set a compliance date for such regulations of April 5, 2021. ONC is now sharing preliminary data on the information blocking claims received for the first time.
Continue Reading ONC Information Blocking Data Show Majority of Claims Against Health Care Providers