Physicians and Allied Health Professionals

On November 1, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued final rules concerning the 2023 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) payment rates and 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). These final rules implement various updates and policy changes for Medicare payments under the PFS and OPPS, and made significant updates to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), which go into effect on or after January 1, 2023. We summarize the key changes below and will elaborate on these rules in future posts.

Continue Reading CMS Issues Final Rules Concerning the 2023 Outpatient Prospective Payment System Rates and Physician Fee Schedule

On October 17, 2022, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in three cases asking the court to resolve a circuit split regarding the application of the particularity pleading requirement for allegations of fraud in False Claims Act (FCA) cases, as required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b). The cases are: Johnson, et al. v. Bethany Hospice, 21-462; U.S., ex rel. Owsley v. Fazzi Associates, Inc., et al., 21-936; and Molina Healthcare, et al. v. Prose, 21-1145. Molina also presented a second question over which circuits had split, regarding the correct interpretation of Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar and whether a request for payment without specific representations can be actionable under an implied false certification theory. (Petition for Writ of Certiorari).

Continue Reading Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Three FCA “Particularity” Cases

On October 18, 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced two settlements with CHC Holdings, LLC, an Oklahoma limited liability company doing business as Carter Healthcare (Carter), and two former senior corporate officers, resolving alleged violations of the federal False Claims Act (FCA), Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), and Physician Self-Referral Law (commonly referred to as the “Stark Law”). One case settled claims that Carter had made improper payments to referring physicians in Oklahoma and Texas, while the other case settled claims that Carter had made false billing claims in Florida. Both matters were initiated by qui tam whistleblower complaints filed under the FCA. Carter agreed to pay more than $30 million to resolve the allegations.

Continue Reading Home Health Company and Two Corporate Officers Settle False Claims Act Allegations for Over $30 Million

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 August 19, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published Advisory Opinion 22-16 (Advisory Opinion) in which it declined to impose sanctions for an arrangement under which the requestor provides gift cards to patients for completing an online learning program related to surgeries. The OIG concluded that although the arrangement would constitute prohibited remuneration under the federal anti-kickback statute (AKS) and the beneficiary inducement prohibitions of the Civil Monetary Penalties Law (CMP), it is unlikely to impact competition among providers or influence selection of a particular provider and therefore determined that the arrangement did not warrant the imposition of sanctions.

Continue Reading Advisory Opinion 22-16: OIG Declines to Impose Sanctions for Arrangement Involving Provision of Gift Cards to Patients for Completing Learning Program

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

Health care providers subject to the Information Blocking rules issued under the 21st Century Cures Act, Pub.L. 114–255, are reminded that such Information Blocking rules will apply to an expanded set of information beginning on October 6, 2022. The Information Blocking rules currently apply only to a limited portion of electronic health information (EHI) represented by the specific data elements identified in the United States Core Data for Interoperability version 1 standard (commonly referred to as USCDIv1). Effective October 6, 2022, the Information Blocking rules will apply to all EHI, which is defined as all electronic protected health information (as defined by HIPAA) to the extent that such electronic protected health information is included in a designated record set (also as defined by HIPAA), and excluding psychotherapy notes and information compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or for use in, a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding.

Continue Reading REMINDER: October 6 Deadline for Information Blocking Rules Approaches

On August 19, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of the Treasury (DOT), released “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing: Final Rules” (the Rules). The Rules change and finalize the prior interim final rules concerning the information health insurers must share regarding the qualifying payment amount (QPA) and the independent dispute resolution (IDR) process under the No Surprises Act.  The Rules address comments received pertaining to the interim final rules as well as the recent judicial decisions in Texas Medical Association[1]and LifeNet. [2]

Continue Reading New Final Rule Under the No Surprises Act Released

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

As we have previously written on, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont recently signed into law the state’s budget as Public Act 22-118 (Act), which makes various changes to the Connecticut statutes. Among the changes, the Act expands the authority of Connecticut’s Office of Health Strategy (OHS).

Continue Reading Connecticut Expands OHS Authority