On October 3, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG) released fiscal year 2013 Work Plan. The 2013 Work Plan provides an overview of priority areas in which the OIG intends to focus its enforcement activities with respect to programs and operations of HHS in the upcoming fiscal year. Physicians and other providers covered by this Work Plan should use the document as a guide in prioritizing and updating their own current compliance efforts. This article summarize areas that are most relevant to physician practices, and is Part 2 of our review of the 2013 OIG Work Plan.
Non-Hospital-Owned Physician Practices Billing Medicare as Provider- Based Physician Practices
The OIG will determine the impact of non-hospital-owned physician practices billing Medicare as provider-based physician practices. Also, the OIG will determine whether practices using the provider-based status meet the CMS billing requirements. Additional Medicare payments are paid for services furnished at provider-based facilities, so the OIG has an interest in making sure that those claiming provider-based status are accurate.
Physicians Encountering Beneficiaries Face-to-Face When Certifying Them for Medicare Home Health Services
This item focuses on a requirement of the Affordable Care Act that physicians who certify beneficiaries as eligible for Medicare home health services have face-to-face encounters with the beneficiaries. The OIG will examine current practices. The statute dictates that the encounters must occur within the 90 days before the beneficiary starts home health care or up to 30 days after care begins.
Physicians’ Improper Use of Commercial Mailboxes
In this item, the OIG directs attention to physicians’ use of commercial mailboxes. The OIG will determine the extent to which Medicare Part B providers and suppliers had practice locations matching commercial mailbox addresses in 2011. These types of mailboxes are forbidden, and the OIG believes that physicians were using commercial mailboxes in order to defraud Medicare.
Physicians Failing to Refund Overpayments Will Have Recent Medicare Payments Reviewed
The OIG will review providers and suppliers that have failed to refund their overpayments. Physicians begin to bill Medicare under a different provider number after overpayments are found on their first number. CMS may deny a physician’s enrollment in the Medicare program if he or she has an overpayment outstanding at the time of filing an enrollment application. Thus, the OIG is interested in knowing how many physicians are abusing Medicare by billing under a new provider number that he or she should not have.
Questionable Billing By Ophthalmologists
The OIG will focus on 2011 and questionable billing for ophthalmological services during that year. The OIG is also interested in the geographic locations of providers exhibiting questionable billing.
Questionable Billing for Electrodiagnostic Testing
The OIG is interested in questionable billing for electrodiagnostic testing. In reviewing this billing, the OIG will also focus on provider specialty, diagnosis, and geographic area to see if these factors make a difference in the billing of electrodiagnostic testing.
Interest in Recent Increase of Medicare Payments for Polysomnography
OIG found that Medicare payments for polysomnography – a sleep study service – increased from $62 million in 2001 to $235 million in 2009. Sleep studies may be reimbursable for certain patients, but the OIG believes this increase in payments to be questionable. The OIG will review payments from 2009 through 2010.
Review of High Utilization of Sleep Testing Procedures
The OIG is interested in Medicare payments for high utilization of sleep testing procedures. Medicare will only pay for items and services that are "reasonable and necessary," and the OIG is skeptical as to the reasonableness and necessity of the high increase in sleep testing procedures. Medicare payments to physicians will be examined.
Orthopedic Implant Devices Used in Spinal Fusion Procedures
The OIG and Congress are giving increased focus to physician-owned distributors (POD) which provide devices to hospitals. Currently, PODs provide spinal implants, but the concern arises from growth into other areas. The OIG and Congress believe that PODs could create conflicts of interest and safety concerns for patients. Physicians that plan to enter such high-risk arrangements should seek qualified legal advice.
Safety and Quality of Surgery and Procedures in Ambulatory Surgical Centers and Hospital Outpatient Departments
The OIG is interested in the safety and quality of care provided by ambulatory surgical centers (ASC) and hospital outpatient departments (HOPD). Physicians perform certain procedures in ASCs and HOPDs when they do not require hospitalization, so they must be prepared for the OIG’s review of the safety and quality of such procedures for Medicare beneficiaries. The OIG will assess care in preparation for and provided during surgeries and procedures in both settings.
Medicare Payments for Practice Expenses Related to Part B Imaging Services
The OIG will review Medicare payments for practice expenses related to Part B imaging services. The OIG will also determine whether the utilization rates reflect industry practices.
Medical Necessity of High-Cost Tests for Diagnostic Radiology
The OIG will review payments made for high-cost diagnostic radiology tests. It plans to determine whether these tests are medically necessary. The OIG also is interested in determining the extent to which primary physicians and specialty physicians are ordering the tests for the same patient.
Noncompliance with Assignment Rules
The OIG is interested in the extent to which physicians and other suppliers fail to comply with assignment rules. The OIG intends to determine the extent of inappropriate billing in excess of amounts allowed by Medicare.
The OIG plans to review physician billing for "incident-to" services. Specifically, the OIG will look to see whether payment for such services had a higher error rate than that for non-incident-to services. The OIG is also interested in determining whether Medicare can monitor services that are billed as "incident-to."
Errors in Coding Based on Place-of-Service
Medicare pays a physician differently based on the location where the service is provided. The OIG is interested in errors in coding the place-of-service. Specifically, the OIG will review physicians’ coding on Medicare Part B claims for services performed in ambulatory surgical centers and hospital outpatient departments.
Appropriateness of Use of Claim Modifiers
The OIG will focus on the global surgery period in determining whether certain claims modifiers were correctly coded. The OIG is interested in this time period because prior OIG work found improper use of modifiers during the global surgery period.
Ms. Welch would like to thank Jason Sosnovsky who assisted significantly with the preparation of this article. Mr. Sosnovsky is a recent law school graduate and an employee of Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in our life sciences practice. Mr. Sosnovsky is not yet admitted to the State Bar of Georgia.