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Showing 13 posts in Health Care Fraud.

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 >

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 >

Structuring Healthcare Provider Agreements for Compliance

On June 23rd, the Healthcare Law Blog discussed the Fraud Alert recently issued by the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services regarding physician compensation arrangements which telegraphed the Office of Inspector General’s intention to increase scrutiny of financial arrangements between physicians and providers to whom physicians make referrals. In today’s post, we examine the steps physicians and other healthcare providers should take to ensure that any financial relationships are in compliance with federal statutes and regulations. More >

OIG Fraud Alert Targets Physician Compensation Arrangements

It bears repeating so much that even the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services just issued a Fraud Alert on it – physician compensation arrangements are fraught with potential violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) as well as the Stark Statute and regulations. The AKS is a large enough trap that it catches even the most above-board agreements in its net, and physicians should be wary of the implications. Likewise, the Stark Statute and regulations are broad and are strict liability laws: if you do not meet a Stark exception, the referral and the resulting claim are tainted and the money received based upon the tainted claim must be repaid to the government. More >

The DOJ Increases Scrutiny of Whistleblower False Claims Act Suits

The Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) recently announced that it will review all complaints filed under the qui tam provisions of the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) to determine if a parallel criminal investigation is appropriate. This announcement came during a September 17, 2014 speech by the recently-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the DOJ, Leslie Caldwell, at the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund Conference in Washington D.C. This DOJ announcement signals a departure from prior policy, which allowed, but did not require, the Criminal Division to investigate Civil Division claims. In the past, the decision to open a criminal investigation was left to the discretion of each U.S. Attorney’s Office. More >

OIG Updates Self-Disclosure Protocol, But Discourages Action

On April 17, 2013, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) issued an updated Provider Self-Disclosure Protocol (“SDP”). The initial protocol was created in 1998 (“’98 version”) with the goal of having providers voluntarily identify and disclose potential federal health care program fraud and work with the OIG to resolve the identified abuses. Specifically, the SDP offered guidance to providers (both individuals and entities) on how to investigate conduct, quantify damages, mitigate potential penalties, and report to OIG.  Further guidance came in a series of OIG Open Letters to the health care industry in 2006, 2008, and 2009. The updated SDP provisions supersede both the original version and the subsequent Open Letters. More >

Senate Finance Committee Takes an In-Depth Look at Fraud & Abuse

Earlier this week, I discussed the HHS and DOJ Annual Report for the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Program.  HHS and DOJ are not the only ones who are determined to purge the health care industry of its woes.   On January 31, 2013 a group of six current and former members of the Senate Finance Committee released a comprehensive report detailing recommendations on combating waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid Programs. More >

Annual Report Details Record Breaking Success in Health Care Fraud Prevention

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), required the establishment of a national Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program (“HCFAC”). The HCFAC Program is a joint Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Health and Human Services (“HHS”) coordination of federal, state and local law enforcement activities to combat fraud committed against all health plans, both public and private. More >

Compliance Plan – A Provider’s Defense

The Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) has always encouraged Medicare and Medicaid providers to implement a compliance program. For 14 years, as a matter of fact, OIG has provided compliance guidance in 11 healthcare sectors (including: hospitals, nursing facilities, home healthcare, hospice and third-party billers). With the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”), compliance plans and programs are now mandatory for any provider enrolled in a Federal health care program, including Medicare. More >

Fraud, Waste and Abuse Controls Under The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) strives to improve our health care system in three main areas; by expanding consumer protections, strengthening Medicare and reducing health care costs.  One key way the government hopes to achieve these goals is through tougher fraud and waste controls. Given the focus on prevention, penalty and recovery, compliance plans are of the utmost importance for all health care providers. First we examine all of the elements incorporated in the ACA that pertain to fraud, abuse and waste before we can begin to develop a compliance plan for our facilities. The new law contains a host of tools aimed at enforcing fraud and waste prevention.  Let’s review: More >

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