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Showing 15 posts in False Claims Act.

Implied False Certification - Supreme Court Upholds New False Claims Act Standard

Posted In False Claims Act

While the news for healthcare practitioners regarding regulatory liability under Federal law had largely been positive as of late, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld a new standard of liability under the False Claims Act in the case of Universal Health Services v. United States ex rel. Escobar. The standard of liability approved by SCOTUS is referred to as “implied false certification” and the implications for healthcare providers are numerous. More >

The One Simple Rule for Practitioners to Avoid Overpayments and False Claims Act Penalties

Posted In False Claims Act, Overpayments

In December, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released its “Supplementary Appendices for the Medicare Fee-for-Service 2015 Improper Payments Report,”[1] an annual compilation of statistics from investigations into overpayments and other instances of fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare payments. What should shock Kentucky providers is that Kentucky has the seventh highest percentage of projected overpayments at 15.4%, or $897.7 million.[2] More than one out of every seven Medicare fee-for-service payments made in the Commonwealth is projected to be an overpayment in 2015, yet many of these problems could have been avoided by following one simple rule: document claims properly.


[1] U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2015). The Summary Appendices for the Medicare Fee-for-Service 2015 Improper Payments Report. Retrieved from  https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Monitoring-Programs/Medicare-FFS-Compliance-Programs/CERT/CERT-Reports-Items/Downloads/AppendicesMedicareFee-for-Service2015ImproperPaymentsReport.pdf

[2] Ibid. at 13. More >

Good News, Providers: A Mere Difference of Medical Opinion Does Not A False Claim Make

Posted In False Claims Act, Fraud, Health Care Fraud

FINALLY, some good news for providers related to false claims. In a very important Alabama case, a federal trial court granted summary judgment to AseraCare, Inc., in a False Claims Act[1] action where it had been alleged that the hospice program had knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare for patients who were allegedly not terminally ill. In its opinion, the U.S. District Court ruled that the Government may not prove falsity for purposes of the False Claims Act based solely upon the opinion of one medical expert who disagrees with the certifying physician and the patient's treating physicians about whether the medical records reported eligibility for the hospice benefit. In a ruling that all health providers can cheer, the court held that "[a] mere difference of opinion between physicians, without more, is not enough to show falsity."[2]


[1] 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–3733

[2] United States v. AseraCare, lnc., No. 2:12-CV-245-KOB (MD

Alabama March 31, 2016) at 2. More >

CMS finalizes the 60-day overpayment rule and providers can breathe a little easier

The wait is over – in February, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released its Final Rule on identifying, reporting, and returning overpayments to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. This rule is the result of provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) which created a 60-day safe harbor during which providers can identify overpayments by the two major federal healthcare programs. If a provider fails to report an overpayment within 60 days of the date that it was identified, the overpayment may be considered a violation of the federal False Claims Act (“FCA” - for more information on the FCA, please read my earlier blog posts). The Final Rule implementing this provision became effective on March 14, 2016. More >

Up, Up and Away: Penalties and CMPs to be Adjusted for Inflation

As part of the recent bipartisan budget deal, the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015 (the “Improvements Act”) requires that all federal agencies make inflation-based adjustments to all civil monetary penalties (CMPs) within their jurisdictions beginning no later than August 1, 2016. In the health care context, the legislation means that the penalties available to the government under the Civil Monetary Penalties Law (CMPL), as well as the False Claims Act (FCA), must be adjusted for inflation and increased. More >

OIG Targets Questionable Billing Practices for Ambulance Services

The Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) pulled no punches in a recent report on Medicare Part B billing for ambulance transports. The September release presented a case for increased scrutiny, pointing out that Medicare has historically been vulnerable to fraud where ambulance transports are concerned. For instance, a 2006 OIG report determined that 25% of billed ambulance transports did not meet Medicare requirements in Calendar Year 2002. That year, Medicare paid almost $3 billion for ambulance services, and improper payments accounted for an estimated $402 million of that total. As 2012 saw Medicare pay $5.8 billion for ambulance services, the OIG took an even closer look at this category of claims. More >

Providers Wary after First Ruling on 60-Day Rule

The False Claims Act (“FCA”) is already a minefield for healthcare providers, especially when coupled with the Stark Law. Treble damages and fines of up to $11,000 per violation add up quickly under the FCA. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York just made further FCA “reverse false claims” nightmares that much more of a reality in the case of Kane v. Healthfirst. That case is illustrative of how the government will interpret and enforce the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (“CMS”) “60-day rule” for retention of overpayments, and the result should make all healthcare providers take notice. More >

CMS Sends a Lifeline on Stark after Tuomey Affirmed: What Health Providers Should Know

In July, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a record verdict of $237 million against Tuomey Healthcare Systems in the case of U.S. ex rel. Drakeford v. Tuomey Healthcare System, Inc. for violations of the False Claims Act and the Stark Law. Tuomey allegedly violated these laws in over 21,000 claims, submitting bills to Medicare worth $39 million. The False Claims Act allows up to triple damages per claim, as well as a penalty of up to $11,000 per violation. Perhaps in light of such a verdict, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a set of proposed changes and clarifications to the Stark Law that should help healthcare providers to breathe a sigh of relief. More >

The False Claims Act - the Basics Every Provider Should Know, Part Two

Posted In False Claims Act, Medicaid, Medicare, Qui Tam

On Tuesday, we discussed the history and basic elements of a violation of the False Claims Act. Today’s post will explore the penalties and enforcement of the Act. More >

The False Claims Act – the Basics Every Provider Should Know, Part One

Posted In False Claims Act, Medicaid, Medicare, Qui Tam

The federal False Claims Act (“FCA”)[1] casts an incredibly long shadow, covering every transaction between the federal government and a private party seeking payment from it. Enacted at the height of the Civil War in 1863, the law was designed to keep military suppliers honest in their dealings with a government already strapped from fighting a war. Since then, the FCA has served as an almost nuclear deterrent to those who would attempt to defraud the government when requesting payment for services. In 2014, the Department of Justice managed to recover $5.69 billion under the law. False claims in federal healthcare programs accounted for $2.3 billion of that figure, which makes the FCA, as well as its interaction with other laws such as the Affordable Care Act, fraught with difficulty for unwary healthcare providers. More >

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