Office of Inspector General

On March 12, 2024, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an important decision interpreting the “willfulness” standard necessary to find a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). The decision provides important guidance for health care and pharmaceutical organizations on what constitutes a knowing violation of the AKS and for counsel

Below is an excerpt of an article co-authored by Government Enforcement and White-Collar Defense Team co-chair  Seth Orkand, published in G2 Intelligence on March 25, 2024 .

Recent enforcement actions have made clear that fraud, waste, and abuse is a continual concern of regulating agencies for the healthcare space, including for clinical laboratories.

On December 13, 2023, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued its final rule entitled “Health Data, Technology, and Interoperability: Certification Program Updates, Algorithm Transparency, and Information Sharing” and known as “HTI-1” (Final Rule). Among other issues addressed in the Final Rule, ONC revised the information blocking rules to add clarity and to create a new information blocking exception. We outline these changes in further detail below. The information blocking provisions of the Final Rule will be effective 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.Continue Reading ONC’s HTI-1 Final Rule Updates Information Blocking Regulations

On November 1, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed rule titled “21st Century Cures Act: Establishment of Disincentives for Health Care Providers That Have Committed Information Blocking” (the Proposed Rule). The Proposed Rule, if finalized, would create disincentives for health care providers that the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) determines have committed “information blocking” (as defined at 45 C.F.R. § 171.103).Continue Reading HHS Proposes Disincentives for Providers that Commit Information Blocking

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

On August 18, 2023, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published Advisory Opinion 23-05 (Advisory Opinion), in which the OIG warned that it would likely issue sanctions under the Federal anti-kickback statute (AKS) if a proposed contractual joint venture for the provision of certain surgical monitoring services was carried out.Continue Reading Advisory Opinion 23-05: OIG Warns Sanctions Would Likely be Issued in Response to Certain Proposed Contractual Joint Venture

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently issued two notable compliance updates, of which health care organizations should take note as the COVID-19 public health emergency ends and regulatory compliance activities ramp up.Continue Reading OIG Compliance Updates

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 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

As the year comes to a close, the government has signaled a specific focus on clinical laboratories for 2023.  On December 6, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a Report entitled, “Labs With Questionably High Billing for Additional Tests Alongside COVID-19 Tests Warrant Further Scrutiny” (Report).  The Report discusses why the study pertaining to the billing of additional tests alongside COVID-19 testing was conducted, how it was conducted, and what the key takeaways of the study are.  This was followed by OIG’s issuance in mid-December of a Data Brief reviewing Medicare Part B spending on lab tests entitled, “Medicare Part B Spending on Lab Tests Increased in 2021, Driven by Higher Volume of COVID-19 Tests, Genetic Tests and Chemistry Tests” (Data Brief). Continue Reading OIG Issues Reports Reviewing Laboratory Billing Practices and Noting Increased Spending by Medicare Part B on Laboratory Tests