Each October marks the height of playoff baseball, the changing of the leaves, and the beginning of a new fiscal year for the Federal government. With the beginning of each new fiscal year, health care providers of all sizes and types are informed of the audit and enforcement plans of the Federal regulators charged with overseeing the federal health care programs. The Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) at the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), the entity tasked with protecting HHS programs by detecting and preventing health care fraud and abuse, released its 2012 Work Plan this month, providing insight on the reviews and activities that the OIG will pursue during the next twelve months and beyond.
The Work Plan offers health care providers a glimpse into the future and an opportunity to see the issues that the OIG plans to focus its investigative resources on. Knowing what to expect in the coming year regarding enforcement and audits can be a useful tool in providers’ own internal compliance efforts. Providers may take a look at their own practices in these related areas in order to assess compliance with the applicable federal laws. Some of the key areas affecting Delaware health care providers are listed below, and the entire plan can be viewed at the OIG website. ( http://oig.hhs.gov/reports-and-publications/workplan/index.asp#current)
Medicare Inpatient and Outpatient Payments to Acute Care Hospitals
OIG will review Medicare payments to hospitals to determine compliance with selected billing requirements. OIG will utilize data mining techniques to select hospitals for focused reviews and will then recommend recovery of overpayments and identify those providers deemed high-risk, who routinely submit improper claims.
Acute-Care Hospital Inpatient Transfers to Inpatient Hospice Care
OIG will review Medicare claims for inpatient stays where the beneficiary was transferred to hospice care. The relationship (financial or common ownership) between the entities will be examined, as well as how Medicare treats reimbursement for similar transfers to other settings.
Medicare Outpatient Dental Claims
Medicare hospital outpatient payments for dental services will be reviewed to determine if payment was proper under Medicare requirements. Dental services are only covered under a few exceptions, but based on OIG audits, providers received significant overpayments.
Hospital Claims with High or Excessive Payments
OIG will review high payments to determine whether they were appropriate. Specifically, OIG’s work will include outpatient claims in which payments exceeded charges.
Inpatient Prospective Payment System: Hospital Payments for Nonphysician Outpatient Services
OIG will review the appropriateness of these payments for services that were provided to beneficiaries shortly before or during covered stays at acute care hospitals. Prior reviews have revealed a significant number of improper claims.
Medicare Inpatient and Outpatient Hospital Claims for the Replacement of Medical Devices
Medicare is not responsible for the full cost of a replaced medical device if the hospital receives a partial or full credit from the manufacturer. As such, OIG will review whether claims for the insertion of replacement devices utilized the proper modifier when a credit is received.
Observation Services During Outpatient Visits
Improper use of observation services may result in high cost sharing for beneficiaries, so OIG will review Medicare payments for observation services provided by outpatient departments.
Hospital Admissions With Conditions Coded Present on Admission
OIG will review Medicare claims to determine which facilities (e.g., SNF or rehabilitation facilities) most frequently transfer patients with certain diagnoses that were coded as being present on admission.
Accuracy of Present-on-Admission Indicators Submitted on Medicare Claims
Beginning in 2008, CMS required hospitals to submit present-on-admissions indicators with each diagnosis code on inpatient claims. The Affordable Care Act provides that hospitals with high rates of hospital-acquired conditions will receive reduced payments, and as such, accurate present-on-admission indicators are necessary for CMS to carry out this new law. OIG will review the accuracy of the present-on-admission indicators that were submitted by hospitals in 2008.
Nursing Home Compliance Plans
OIG will begin to review nursing homes’ compliance plans after Section 6102 of the Affordable Care Act mandated compliance and ethics programs to detect and prevent criminal, civil, and administrative violations. CMS must issue regulatory requirements for the programs by 2012, but OIG will begin to review those programs already in place.
Physicians: Incident-To Services
OIG will review physician billing for “incident-to” services to assess whether payment had a higher error rate than the rate for non-incident-to services. OIG believes such services may be vulnerable to overutilization, and as such, the services will be subject to closer scrutiny.
Physicians: Place-of-Service Errors
OIG will review physicians’ coding on Medicare Part B claims for services performed in ambulatory surgical centers and hospital outpatient departments to determine whether they properly coded the places of service. Federal regulations provide for different levels of payments to physicians depending on where services are performed.
Evaluation and Management Services: Use of Modifiers During the Global Surgery Period
OIG will review the use of certain claims modifier codes during the global surgery period to determine whether the use was appropriate and in accordance with Medicare requirements.
Diagnostic Radiology: Excessive Payments
OIG will review payments for high-cost diagnostic radiology tests to determine whether they were medically necessary. Additionally, the review will target whether, and to what extent, the same diagnostic tests are ordered both by the primary care physician and specialists for the same treatment.
Medicare Payments for Part B Claims with G Modifiers
OIG will review payments from 2002 to 2010 for claims where certain modifier codes were used to indicate that Medicare denial was expected. The review will identify the extent to which Medicare paid those claims and the providers with atypically high billing related to the modifiers.