Health law is the federal, state, and local law, rules, regulations and other jurisprudence among providers, payers and vendors to the healthcare industry and its patient and delivery of health care services; all with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional legal issues.
Yet again, the fraud enforcement arm of the DOJ strikes out against fraud in the pharmacy industry. Two new cases shed continuing light on the ongoing fraud.
Announced last week by the DOJ, the owner/operator of five pharmacies in New York pled guilty to charges stemming from a scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid by billing for prescription drugs that were not dispensed, not prescribed, not medically necessary or dispensed when the pharmacy had no authority to dispense the prescription drugs. This blatant disregard for the law was magnified when the owner/operator used the ill-gotten gains of her scheme to purchase luxury items like cars and jewelry. Nothing screams “come and get me” like openly flaunting the money taken from the government. read more
The term “payment for referral” strikes fear in the hearts of health care providers throughout the country because of the significant prohibitions under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). And, Florida’s Patient Brokering Act (PBA) casts an even bigger shadow over arrangements involving payment in exchange for referrals. There are other statutory restrictions as well, which may apply depending upon the services for which a referral is being made. Those include but are not limited to statutes prohibiting physician fee-splitting and the federal Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (EKRA) (applicable to referrals to recovery homes, clinical treatment facilities, or laboratories in an effort to stave off growing opioid-related fraud), and the potential collateral damage of a false claim under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) if any of the above statutes are violated.
So, is there any scenario where a payment may be made by a health care provider in exchange for referrals? The answer is yes- there is a safe harbor under the AKS (42 U.S. C. §1320a-7b(b)) specifically for such arrangements. This safe harbor is not commonly used and likely means revision to existing arrangements to come into compliance with its specific requirements. But it may be worth considering if the referral (and payment for that referral) is not otherwise prohibited as noted above. read more
Review EOBs and determine where denials are originating and their root cause
While reviewing EOBs practices need to determine if a trend can be established that identifies the root cause for why claims are being denied. Trends can be established by asking if most denials are originating in your patient access and registration departments, or are denials occurring because of insufficient documentation, or due to billing or coding errors?
Does your office treat Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries? If so, this article is vital to you and your staff. The first question that I want all of you to ask yourself is if your practice treats Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries do you know what an ABN is, and why they are vital for your practice? The acronym ABN stands for Advance Beneficiary Notice of Non-coverage. ABNs safeguard your practice’s right to collect on non-covered services (other than statutorily excluded services) from patients who have Medicare or Medicaid. Multiple organizations I have worked with throughout my career had never been informed about ABNs or had never been properly educated on how utilize them. This article is intended to provide you and your practice with the most recent information regarding the renewed ABN form that became mandatory for use on January 1, 2021.
As of January 1, 2021, a new Fee-for-Service Advanced Beneficiary Notification of Non-coverage became effective until it expires on June 30, 2023. In the event that your practice has been utilizing the same ABN forms for years then listen up. read more
Over the years I have come to grasp that ABNs although very useful are quite difficult to implement appropriately for chiropractic practices. My goal for this article is to help practices understand how often ABNs should actually be signed by their Medicare beneficiary patients. A question I am typically asked about ABNs is when should a patient sign a new one? Many offices have the misconception that a new ABN should be signed by Medicare beneficiaries at the beginning of each year which is not the case.
Medicare only requires that the ABN form be completed before the first spinal chiropractic manipulative treatment is rendered for maintenance, wellness, palliative, and/or supportive care. Until one of the following takes place the ABN remains active:
In the event a new condition or active treatment is initiated the current ABN would be rendered invalid because the active treatment would likely meet Medicare’s medical necessity guidelines and be considered eligible for payment again; or
The current ABN on file is more than twelve (12) months old. In the event the ABN is more than twelve (12) months old an updated ABN must be signed in order to continue maintenance care. Once the new ABN is signed it shall be valid for twelve (12) more months or until another active treatment is initiated.
With the current healthcare environment many providers looked to alternative methods of treating patients and achieving outcomes this past year due to the pandemic. To meet the needs of their patients, and their financial obligations many providers implemented services that were not customary to their practice, or their billing departments. As is the case for any office that begins to provide something new there is always the potential for error in any aspect of the practice involved with the patient or claim. Therefore, I believe it is a great time to refresh providers on the procedures for reporting and returning Medicare overpayments as they are discovered moving forward.
As many of you are aware in 2016 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rue pursuant to Section 1128J(d) of the Social Security Act (the Act), as amended by the Affordable Care Act, that requires Medicare Parts A and B health care providers to report and return overpayments 60 days after the date an overpayment is identified, or the due date of any corresponding cost report, if applicable, whichever is later. If credible information indicates that an overpayment exists, the rule requires that a reasonably diligent inquiry must be performed.
Due to the increasing number of forms being required these days it is all too common for practices to get lost in the vast terminology, rules, and coding requirements that have to be followed as well. An area that practices have one of the most difficult times with is operationalizing the issuance of an ABN properly. I am frequently asked to consult for practices that ask who does which part, when, and with whom in regards to ABNs? In other instances, many practices I have worked with simply make the mistake that they can solve the complexities of trying to understand the nuances of how to properly utilize ABNs by deciding to issue ABNs to every Medicare patient for every service which is not a viable option either. The solution that many offices try that I just described is called issuing blanket ABNs, which in turn may cause Medicare to invalidate all issued ABNs from the practice, including those that may been appropriate which is why it is very important that blanket ABNs are never issued.
One thing in common with practices that issue ABNs in a proper manner is that they all have a process in place for identifying potential denied services prior to delivering them. To many practices this may sound easy, but to ensure that your practice is as effective as possible it will take some claims data analysis to ensure that your practice is capturing all potential opportunities for ABN issuance. The aim of this article will be to provide practices with 5 steps that will make ABN issuance easier. read more
This question is a redundant question, if it is my intellectual property, then by definition – I own it. True, but this question raises important issues that employers need to worry about – ownership of intellectual property. The general rule is that if your employees create intellectual property while they are working for you, the employer will own it. So, for example, if your office manager takes some pictures around the office and creates personal bios of your employees and puts that information on your website then you own that information. However, what if they created that information at night while they were not at work and technically you were not paying them? Well, now we are getting into a greyer area. So, my recommendation is to avoid this issue, by updating your HR manual to state that you own the intellectual property, and not your employees. read more
Whether you’ve been in practice for years or you’re just graduating, buying an existing dental practice can be a great way to quickly enter into an already established patient base without the pains of starting up from scratch. While it may seem like a daunting task, the right team can make the purchase transaction flow as smoothly as possible. Here’s a list of important things to consider when negotiating the purchase.
The healthcare industry is doing its level best to keep fax machine manufacturers in business. Because fax machines are considered to be HIPAA compliant, it’s easy to keep them humming along. Paying for expensive toner, electricity and the telephone line attached to the wall behind the machine is just the way we’ve always done it. But that telephone line should give you enough reason to consider your options.
AT&T built and owns the copper telephone network that provides the analog signal required for T1 lines, traditional telephones, fax machines, credit card machines, postage meters, alarms and elevators. That service is known as POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service. Maintaining that antiquated network is costly and inefficient for AT&T so they will retire POTS in the near future. All services will eventually run over fiber optic cables and your equipment may have to change to keep up. You may have received a letter telling you about this transition but probably ignored it or did not even open it thinking it was a solicitation. So, how does AT&T get your attention if you won’t read their letter? Check your phone bill!