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$1.2B Health Care Fraud Schemes Involving Telemedicine and Durable Medical Equipment Marketing Executives

April 9th, 2019 by

Via justice.gov – One of the largest health care fraud schemes investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and prosecuted by the Department of Justice resulted in charges against 24 defendants, including the CEOs, COOs and others associated with five telemedicine companies, the owners of dozens of durable medical equipment (DME) companies and three licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving more than $1.2 billion in loss, as well as the execution of over 80 search warrants in 17 federal districts.  In addition, the Center for Medicare Services, Center for Program Integrity (CMS/CPI) announced today that it took adverse administrative action against 130 DME companies that had submitted over $1.7 billion in claims and were paid over $900 million. Read on…

DMEPOS Round 2021 Competitive Bidding: Potential Pitfalls

March 27th, 2019 by

2021 competitive biddingBy: Matt Fischer

With the 2021 competitive bidding round on the horizon for durable medical equipment (DME) providers, both those that are established as well as those fairly new to the industry must take note of the potential pitfalls that may be encountered when competing to become a Medicare contract supplier.

The durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program was first established by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.  Under this program, DMEPOS suppliers submit bids (i.e. applications) and compete to furnish specific items in competitive bidding areas commonly referred to as CBAs.  Additionally, suppliers are not just bidding for the rights to a particular CBA but also for a single payment amount that will replace the current Medicare fee schedule payment.  The payment will be determined by using the bids submitted.  As of December 31, 2018, all contacts have expired.  As a result, there is currently a temporary gap period.  The upcoming bidding process is loaded with requirements.  Therefore, compliance with each requirement is crucial.  Here are a few pitfalls to watch out for:  read more

Law Enforcement Referrals by UPICs

March 26th, 2019 by

UPIC investigatorBy: Matt Fischer

CMS contractors such as Unified Program Integrity Contractors (UPICs) are tasked with ensuring that Medicare pays the right amount for covered services by legitimate providers.  Specifically, a UPIC’s main goal is to identify cases of suspected fraud, waste and abuse, and additionally, to take immediate administrative action to protect federal program funds.  Within its administrative action toolkit, apart from the common pre- or post-payment reviews and payment suspensions, UPICs have the ability to refer cases of potential fraud to law enforcement agencies. read more

Marketing for DME & Pharmacy Providers: Know Your Subcontractor!

November 13th, 2018 by

marketing for dmeBy: Michael Silverman

Regulatory compliance is a mandatory investment for any healthcare business owner looking to stay out of serious and personal legal peril, let alone one hoping to keep their company viable.

Yet there is seemingly an onslaught of providers that blatantly run afoul of many of these regulations, knowingly or not, or those that believe they may have found a loophole.

Concerning the latter, there is an important mantra that such DME and pharmacy providers should remember and live by: “[W]hat a provider cannot do directly, it cannot do indirectly through an intermediary.”

Marketing for DME – What exactly am I talking about?

DME providers enrolled with CMS (should) know they cannot solicit or ‘cold call’ Medicare Part B beneficiaries, per the Federal Anti-Solicitation Statute, and that they cannot offer anything of value to a potential patient that could induce them to utilize them as a provider, in accordance with the Beneficiary Inducement Statute. read more

Pharmacy or DME: The Time is Ripe to Become Both

August 13th, 2018 by

pharmacy dmeBy: Michael Silverman

People looking to enter the direct-to-consumer medical supply business often question whether becoming a pharmacy or durable medical equipment provider (DME) is a “better” endeavor.

Now, more than ever, due to industry changes and because of the synergies between the two, the answer is “ become both.”

Think about it. read more

DME Compliance Alert for Telehealth Doctors

April 11th, 2018 by

By: Karina Gonzalez

Many DME suppliers purchase leads from marketing companies. The patients who respond to the marketing advertisements are generally not interested in travelling to their doctor’s office to obtain an order for braces, for example. This type of arrangement is seen often enough and so starts a potentially problematic arrangement with the DME company paying the marketing company.  The marketing company may then use some of these dollars to pay a telehealth company.  The telehealth company may then pay a telehealth physician for “telemedicine visit” with the patient. Ultimately, the telehealth/telemedicine physician issues and order for the braces or other supplies.The DME brace supplier then gets paid by Medicare Part C, or other healthcare plan for providing the supply to the patient.

The problem with this arrangement is that the sole source of the telehealth doctor’s reimbursement for the visit comes indirectly from the DME company.   Essentially, the DME supplier is paying the ordering physician through the marketing company for the visit with the patient.  This creates a prohibited kickback arrangement because the supplier is essentially paying the Teledoctor for the referral for braces. The telehealth company is acting as a virtual unregulated physician practice.  Providers engaged in this type of practice are not in compliance with either Federal or Florida law.

DMEPOS Medicare Coverage & Reimbursement

March 14th, 2018 by

DME medicareBy: Michael Silverman

Providers need to comply with all the Medicare ‘red tape’ but need not let fear of non-compliance inhibit their practice from offering Durable Medical Equipment Prosthetics & Orthotics Supplies (“DMEPOS”) to Medicare beneficiaries.

Here’s an overview of the steps providers need to take to enroll as a supplier of DMEPOS with Medicare to be eligible for Part B coverage and reimbursement: read more

Chiropractic Practice Expansion: The DMEPOS Licensure Process

March 13th, 2018 by

DMEPOS LicenseBy: Michael Silverman

Adding Durable Medical Equipment Prosthetics & Orthotics Supplies (“DMEPOS”) to a Chiropractic Practice is a great way to not only increase revenues, but most importantly it is a great way to increase overall patient satisfaction and care.

Providing patients with easy access to DMEPOS allows for more comprehensive care, enabling providers to help further stabilize injuries, maximize patient recoveries, and minimize patient down time. Many existing patients are already buying and utilizing DMEPOS such as back braces, so there is an opportunity to provide that additional supervision and care through an existing practice.

Examples of DMEPOS that would complement a Chiropractic Practice and which patients are likely already using: read more

Level 2 Background Screening – Your License Depends on It!

March 13th, 2018 by

level 2 background screeningBy: Susan St. John

Providers licensed or regulated by the Agency for Health Care Administration must make certain that their employees and/or contracted personnel have had Level 2 Background Screening (criminal history background check) pursuant to Florida Statutes and Administrative Code within 10 business days of being hired. Also, if a potential employee or contractor has not been employed within the previous 90 days, even if that individual previously had level 2 background screening, the individual will need to go through submitting fingerprints again. Further, each employee or contracted individual that is subject to Level 2 Background Screening must renew the background screening every 5 years to be eligible for employment or continued employment with an AHCA licensed or regulated provider.

Fingerprint Retention Period

The 5 year expiration from the date of retention of fingerprints is the date that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (“FDLE”) will purge fingerprints from storage, meaning if fingerprint retention renewal has not occurred prior to this date, the whole screening process, that is fingerprinting, etc., starts over. There is no “grace period” if fingerprints have been purged, which means the individual is no longer “technically” eligible for employment with an AHCA licensed provider (and perhaps other providers licensed and regulated by other state agencies such as Department of Health, Department of Children and Families, or Department of Elder Affairs). Further if the provider is in the process of an AHCA survey, accreditation survey, or renewal licensure application, not having a current Level 2 Background Screening for an employee or contractor might subject the provider to a statement of deficiency, assessment of administrative fines or fees, or denial of a licensure renewal application. read more

DME License, Operation and More in Florida – a Brief Legal Look

January 10th, 2018 by

DME operationBy: Susan St. John

So you are considering starting a home medical equipment aka durable medical equipment (HME or DME) business to provide products and services to patients in Florida (and perhaps in other states, but that’s a topic for another day). In addition to deciding what products and/or services you are going to provide and your physical location, there a few things you need to know, steps to be taken, and information to be collected, to apply for an HME/DME license in Florida to get up and going.

The Basics

Florida defines an HME provider as “any person or entity that sells or rents or offers to sell or rent to or for consumers, any HME and service or HME that requires HME services.” Section 400.925(7), Florida Statutes. Further, HME “includes any product as defined by the Food and Drug Administration’s Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, any products reimbursed under the Medicare Part B Durable Medical Equipment benefits, or any products reimbursed under the Florida Medicaid durable medical equipment program. HME includes oxygen and related respiratory equipment; manual, motorized, or customized wheelchairs and related seating and positioning, but does not include prosthetics or orthotics or any splints, braces, or aids custom fabricated by a licensed health care practitioner; motorized scooters; personal transfer systems; and specialty beds, for use by a person with a medical need.” Section 400.925(6), Florida Statutes. read more