Physicians who allow other people or entities to bill for their services are taking a risk. Settlements with eight physicians whose provider numbers were used unlawfully by entities they worked for prompted the OIG to issue an Alert on February 8th. The Alert basically says that physicians who assign to others (e.g. 855R) the right to bill for the services of the physicians will be responsible for the wrongful actions of those using the doctors’ provider numbers. Ignorance will likely not be a good excuse any longer.
What does all this mean to doctors? Simple: VERIFY REGULARLY. If you assign to any person or entity the right to bill for your services, you MUST routinely check to see if they are billing correctly. The fact that some person or entity may bill wrongfully, even fraudulently, without your direct knowledge, will not protect you from liability. Make sure (1) you have written agreements for all arrangements that involve any person or entity billing for your services, and (2) those contracts contain indemnification provisions in case you have to hire a lawyer or pay anything to the government for their wrongdoing.