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DME Fraud Enforcement: Telemarketing & Telemedicine

August 12th, 2019 by

By: Michael Silverman

The indictments and regulatory activities that took place on April 9th were just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the crackdown on DME fraud, telemarketing and telemedicine operations.

In the weeks and months that have followed ‘Operation Brace Yourself’, healthcare providers (such as DME suppliers and telehealth physicians) and telemarketers allegedly involved in these activities have been subjected to a wide range of penalties from suspension of Medicare billing privileges to civil penalties and/or criminal charges. Here are some of the more serious recent DME, telemarketing and telemedicine related civil and criminal regulatory enforcement actions: read more

$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…

DME Provider Alert: Medicare Competitive Bidding is Back!

March 8th, 2019 by

Medicare Competitive BiddingBy: Michael Silverman

Not tomorrow, but relatively soon. And with a vengeance! We knew the current Competitive Bidding Program moratorium wouldn’t last forever, and that the floodgates that opened as of the first of this year would eventually be reined in.

Indeed, on March 7, 2019 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced a new round of Competitive Bidding, which will commence on January 1, 2021 and last through December 31, 2023.

The largest changes from previous rounds of Competitive Bidding that immediately stand out are: read more

Litigation Alert: Pharmacies with Prescription Refill Reminder Programs Take Note

January 14th, 2019 by

Prescription Refill Reminder ProgramsBy: Michael Silverman

Pharmacies using automated dialers for prescription refill reminders and relying on the statutory prescription refill reminder exemption to the TCPA’s prohibition on the use of automated dialing equipment as an impenetrable blanket against liability need to think again.

The case of Smith v. Rite Aid Corporation, 2018 WL 5828693 (W.D.N.Y. Nov. 7, 2018), revolves around a Rite Aid pharmacy’s use of a prescription refill reminder program to contact a patient to pick up a prescription. The pharmacy placed several calls per week intended to remind the patient to come into the store to pick up their prescription. However, an innocent bystander instead of the intended recipient of the mediation received the calls; either due to error in taking the phone number down or a due to the number being reassigned (which happens to thousands of numbers on a daily basis!). The unintended recipient of the multiple prescription refill reminder calls filed a class action lawsuit under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), which provides for statutory penalties of $500-$1,500, per call. 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

Telemarketing Compliance: Legal Considerations Before You Call

May 15th, 2018 by

telemarketing complianceBy: Michael Silverman

Miami resident Adrian Abramovich certainly wasn’t laughing on Thursday May 10th, 2018 when the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) levied a $120 MILLION dollar fine on him for his alleged involvement in an illegal robodialing campaign. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated that Abramovich did not dispute that he had placed more than 96 million telemarketing robocalls over a three month period in 2016 without the recipient’s consent. Furthermore, Chairman Pai stated that Abramovich’s telemarketing campaign utilized caller ID “spoofing” which masks the calling party’s true phone number and causes the recipient’s caller ID to indicate that the call was being made by a local number. Abramovich’s telemarketing activities allegedly violated a variety of state and federal regulations; caller ID spoofing, for example, is expressly prohibited by the Florida Telemarketing Act, § 501.616(7).

With the record-breaking fine imposed on Abramovich, the FCC is sending a loud and clear message that it will not tolerate those individuals or entities that violate telemarketing laws. Any person or business engaged in telemarketing (be it a healthcare provider with a single telephonic sales representative or a business devoted to telemarketing with a 100 person call center) must heed the FCC’s unsubtle hint that enforcement activity of telemarketing laws is only heating up. read more

Florida Telemarketing Law: What You Need to Know

May 14th, 2018 by

florida telemarketing lawBy: Michael Silverman

Like it or not, telemarketing is a huge component of American businesses, and the healthcare industry is no exception. Many insurance companies, physicians, medical equipment and pharmacy providers heavily rely on telemarketing to expand their client base.

Take a moment to reflect – are you engaged in telephonic marketing or sales? Be it a healthcare businesses’ own internal based sales team or a third party providing such services, many individuals and entities are telemarketing and don’t even realize. If conducting telephonic sales either out of a Florida based location, or if calling into Florida, then listen up! There is a Florida telemarketing law that requires all such marketers to register for a telemarketing license or file for an exemption therefrom. While it’s not a new regulation, it’s one that is often overlooked and one that carries serious consequences for non-compliance.

What am I talking about?

Florida Statute Title XXXIII, Ch. 501 §§ 501.601 through 501.626, or more colloquially known as The Florida Telemarketing Act.

BEFORE doing business, The Florida Telemarketing Act requires individuals or entities looking to conduct telemarketing activities within the State to either (1) obtain a Commercial Telephone Seller Business License, as well as to license its individual sales representatives, or (2) have an approved exemption from such licensure on file. For the purposes of the Florida Telemarketing Act, this includes individuals/entities calling either into or calling out of the State! Unwanted telemarketing calls are one of the largest sources of consumer complaints in America; an individual or entity engaged in telemarketing will not “fly under the radar.” A called party will inevitably file a grievance with the state or federal government over telemarketing calls. If the activity falls under Florida’s jurisdiction, regulators will investigate and will penalize those persons or businesses involved if they are not adhering to the regulations outlined in the Florida Telemarketing Act. So what’s required to become licensed or exempted?

The license or exemption is issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – Division of Consumer Services (“FDACS”). A commercial telephone seller must obtain a license from FDACS, in accordance with §501.605, or have an exemption from such licensure on file, in accordance with §501.604.

Option 1 – Apply for the Commercial Telephone Seller Business License read more