FRAUD SCHEMES of [Fewer] Medical Providers

[TOP TEN IN HEALTH CARE]

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By Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA CMP®

  1. Billing for services not rendered.
  2. Billing for a non-covered service as a covered service.
  3. Misrepresenting dates of service.
  4. Misrepresenting locations of service.
  5. Misrepresenting provider of service.
  6. Waiving of deductibles and/or co-payments.
  7. Incorrect reporting of diagnoses or procedures (includes unbundling).
  8. Overutilization of services.
  9. Corruption (kickbacks and bribery).
  10. False or unnecessary issuance of prescription drugs.

[Source]: Charles Piper; CFE CRT January/February 2013 ACFE

Related: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2020/10/01/healthcare-fraud-and-abuse-costs-and-cases-rose-in-2019/

More: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2017/05/03/combating-healthcare-fraud/

Update: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2021/04/24/fraudsters-phishing-for-physician-signatures/

ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts are appreciated.

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Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Costs and Cases Rose in 2019

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Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital Pays $16 Million to Settle Kickback Allegations

Piedmont Pays $16 Million to Settle Kickback and Overbilling Allegations

By Health Capital Consultants, LLC

On June 25, 2020 Atlanta’s Piedmont Healthcare, Inc. agreed to pay $16 million to the federal government to resolve two False Claims Act (FCA) allegations of kickbacks and overbilling. The relator, a former Piedmont physician, alleged Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute (and subsequent FCA) violations of paying an amount that was above fair market value (FMV) and commercially unreasonable in Piedmont’s 2007 acquisition of Atlanta Cardiology Group (ACG).

Additionally, Piedmont’s payments settle allegations that the hospital admitted patients without medical necessity in order to bill Medicare and Medicaid for inpatient procedures that were recommended to be performed at the less expensive outpatient or observation settings.  (Read more…)

Assessment: Your thoughts are appreciated.

NOTE: I was on the courtesy medical staff of Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta for more than a decade = DEM.

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Combating Healthcare Fraud?

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In Healthcare Plans and Accounts

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Connecting Healthcare Fraud Schemes with Fraudsters

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And  … their Leaders

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On the FBI’s Medicare Fraud Strike Forces

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$6.5 Billion in Cash

Edward Bukstel

[By Edward Bukstel]

ME-P SPECIAL REPORT

FBI’s Medicare Fraud Strike Forces Strikes $6.5 Billion in Cash.

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Miami based Home Health Agency owner guilty of Medicare fraud,  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force since its inception in March 2007, is now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.

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 In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

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Laudable Physicians and Shameful Doctors of 2014

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Physicians of the Year [Best and Worst‏]

[From Medscape]

Which physicians made us proud this year and which made us cringe? See who made the list and what they did to make the hall of fame (or shame).

Physicians of the Year

[Of Saints and Sinners]

Here is the list according to Medscape.

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OIG Most Wanted Fugitives: https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/fugitives/index.asp?ref=widget

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Understanding the Spoils of Healthcare Fraud and Abuse

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Self Explanatory – Need we say more?

By ME-P Staff Writers

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Assessment

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Risk Assessment of Medical Practice Billing Companies

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Office of Inspector General

trites

[By Pati Trites MPA, CHBC with Staff Reporters]

The Office of Inspector General [OIG] believes a medical billing company’s written policies and procedures, its educational program and its audit and investigation plans should take into consideration the particular statutes, rules and program instructions that apply to each function or department of the billing company.

Co-ordination Needed

Consequently, coordination between these functions is needed, with an emphasis on areas of special concern that have been identified by the OIG through its investigative and audit functions.

Furthermore, the OIG recommends that billing companies conduct a comprehensive self-administered risk analysis or contract for an independent risk analysis by experienced health care consulting professionals. This risk analysis should identify and rank the various compliance and business risks the company may experience in its daily operations.

Risk Analysis

Once completed, the risk analysis should serve as the basis for the written policies the billing company should develop. The OIG provides the following specific list of particular risk areas that should be addressed by billing companies. It should be noted that this list is not all-encompassing and the risk analysis completed as a result of the company’s audit may provide a more individualized roadmap. Nonetheless, this list is a compilation of several years of OIG audits, investigations and evaluations and should provide a solid starting point for a company’s initial effort.

Problem List

Among the risk areas the OIG has identified as particularly problematic are:

  • Billing for items or services not actually documented;
  • Unbundling;
  • Upcoding, such as, for example, “DRG creep;
  • Inappropriate balance billing;
  • Inadequate resolution of overpayments;
  • Lack of integrity in computer systems;
  • Computer software programs that encourage billing personnel to enter data in fields indicating services were rendered though not actually performed or documented;
  • Failure to maintain the confidentiality of information/records;
  • Knowing misuse of provider identification numbers, which results in improper billing;
  • Outpatient services rendered in connection with inpatient stays;
  • Duplicate billing in an attempt to gain duplicate payment;
  • Billing for discharge in lieu of transfer;
  • Failure to properly use modifiers;
  • Billing company incentives that violate the anti-kickback statute or other similar Federal or State statute or regulation;
  • Joint ventures;
  • Routine waiver of copayments and billing third-party insurance only; and
  • Discounts and professional courtesy.

Additional Risk Areas

The physician-executive should understand that a billing company’s prior history of noncompliance with applicable statutes, regulations and Federal health care program requirements may indicate additional types of risk areas where the billing company may be vulnerable and may require necessary policy measures to prevent avoidable recurrence.

Additional risk areas should be assessed by billing companies as well as incorporated into the written policies and procedures and training elements developed as part of their compliance programs.

Assessment 

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Billing companies that do not code bills should implement policies that require notification to the provider who is coding to implement and follow compliance safeguards with respect to documentation of services rendered.

Moreover, the OIG recommends that billing companies who do not code for their provider clients incorporate in their contractual agreements the provider’s acknowledgment and agreement to address the above coding compliance safeguards.

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Understanding the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank

Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Data Collection Program

By Patricia Trites; MPA, CHBC, CPC

The Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB) were created to coordinate information with the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Currently, health plans, health maintenance organizations, and federal and state agencies are required to report final adverse actions taken against healthcare providers on a monthly basis.

The NP Database

The database operates under the auspices of DHHS, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Bureau of Health Professions. The Secretary of DHHS is responsible for operating this data bank in the same fashion as the NPDB.

Adverse Actions

Five types of final adverse actions against a healthcare provider, supplier, or practitioner are reported into this data bank:

1. civil judgments in federal or state court related to the delivery of a healthcare item or service;

2. federal or state criminal convictions related to the delivery of a healthcare item or service;

3. actions by federal or state agencies responsible for licensing and certification;

4. exclusions from participation in a federal or state healthcare program; and

5. any other adjudicated actions or decisions that the secretary of DHHS establishes by regulations.

Assessment

These actions must be reported, regardless of whether the subject of the report is appealing the action. Federal and state agencies, hospitals, and health plans are permitted to query the HIPDB. This will also lead to increased activities by other federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission, which can lead to civil and criminal penalties.

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Understanding the Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Control Program

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A Joint Project Between the OIG and DOJ

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By Patricia Trites; MPA, CHBC, CPC

The Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Control (HCFAC) program is a joint project between the Office of Inspector General [OIG] and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Functions

The primary functions are to coordinate federal, state, and local enforcement in controlling healthcare fraud, and to conduct investigations relating to delivery and payment of healthcare services, and oversee Medicare and Medicaid exclusions, civil money penalties, and the anti-kickback law. The program is also designed to provide opinions, alerts, and a means for reporting and disclosing final adverse actions against healthcare providers.

HIPAA Policies

HIPAA established the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Account within the Medicare Part A Trust Fund and funds DOJ and DHHS activities for operation of the HCFAC. In addition to federal appropriations, the fund receives a portion of funds collected from healthcare fraud and abuse penalties and fines. HIPAA also authorizes funds from general revenues for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to combat healthcare fraud and abuse.

Assessment

Anti-fraud and abuse provisions were also included in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Deficit Reduction Act [DRA] of 2005, and annotated and

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Government-Enabled Patient “Bounty Hunters”

Spider Webbing Technology May Trip-Up Miscreant Doctors

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA CMP™

HO-JFMS-CD-ROMUnder the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA), the U. S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) have operated an “Incentive Program for Fraud and Abuse Information.”

In this program, HHS pays $100 – $1,000 to Medicare recipients who report abuse in the program.

To assist patients in spotting fraud, HHS has published examples of potential fraud, which include:

  • medical services not provided;
  • duplicated services or procedures;
  • more expenses, services, or procedures claimed for than provided (upcoding/billing);
  • misused Medicare cards and numbers;
  • medical telemarketing scams; and
  • no-medical necessity.

Real Health Fraud Exists

There is no question that real fraud exists. The Office of Inspector General of HHS saved American taxpayers a record $32 billion in 2006, according to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.  Savings were achieved through an intensive and continuing crackdown on waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and over 300 other HHS programs. To discourage flagrant allegations, regulations require that reported information directly contribute to monetary recovery for activities not already under investigation.  For the DRA in 2009, this includes the following:

  • promoting state False Claims Acts (section 6032);
  • enhancing the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, with “red flags” (PL 108-159); see http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-108publ159/content-detail.html
  • employee education about false claims recovery (section 6033);
  • augmenting the Medicaid Integrity Program (section 6034);
  • enhancing third party recovery (section 6035); and
  • “mining” medical claims for potential fraud with the help of sophisticated computer technology algorithms – called “spider-webbing” – which locate a common insurance claim denominator and then follow the thread throughout claims review. Indicators of  possible fraud include doctors charging more than peers; providers who administer more tests or procedures per patient; providers who conduct medically “unlikely” procedures; providers who bill for more expensive procedures and equipment when there are cheaper options; and patients who travel long distances for treatment.

Assessment

CMS and private companies are able to save far more money by detecting fraud before claims are paid than recovering the money after the factAnd so, a further erosion of patient confidence can be expected as CMS, and private insurers, assume the “bounty hunter” view of healthcare providers.

Conclusion

Of course, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Do you feel like the hunter; or the hunted? Tell us what you think? Do you ever – or never –  fear the spider? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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For details about how to report an abuse, see www.usdoj.gov/oig/FOIA/hotline.htm.

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Healthcare Fraud versus Healthcare Abuse

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Understanding Definitional Semantics

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Fraud Defined

Fraudmay be defined as any illegal healthcare activity where someone obtains something of value without paying for, or earning it. In healthcare, this usually occurs when someone bills for services not provided by the physician.

Abuse Defined

According to the Dictionary of Health Insurance and Managed Care, healthcare abuse is the activity where someone overuses or misuses services. And, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS]:

“although some of the practices may be initially considered to be abusive, rather than fraudulent activities, they may evolve into fraud.”

Example:

In the case of healthcare abuse, this may occur when a physician sees the patient for treatment more times than deemed medically appropriate. If there are reported issues or actions from other sources, such as the NPDB or a medical board, a health insurance program can take that opportunity to review healthcare providers’ activities. Most participation agreements allow for this type of scrutiny.

Assessment

And so, now that a workable definition of healthcare fraud and abuse has been proposed, and we have some definitional clarity, any preliminary billing or invoice review program will usually request a sampling of specific medical records. This may progress to an on-site review of any and all medical records of patients that participate in a CMS program.

These activities can be generated by the plan’s quality assurance, or quality improvement program, and often are tied to the credentialing process for a provider’s participation.

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