Author Archives: Daniel Meier

Long Island Radiology Group Settles FCA Allegations That It Billed Medicaid And Medicare For Unnecessary Tests For $15.5M

A company operating diagnostic testing facilities in New York has agreed to pay $13.65 million to the federal government and $1.85 million to New York and New Jersey for a total of $15.5 million in penalties to settle claims it falsely billed federal and state health care programs for tests that were not performed or not medically necessary and for paying kickbacks to physicians. The company denies liability for the allegations that are part of the settlement.

The settlement resolves allegations that between 1999 and 2010 the radiology group submitted false claims to Medicare and state Medicaid programs in New Jersey and New York for Three Dimensional reconstructions of CT scans that, according to the complaint, were medically unnecessary, were not ordered by the treating physicians, and in some cases were never actually performed or interpreted.  These scans are often used in orthopedic, cardiovascular and neurologic imaging, including to visualize complex fractures, tumors in the lungs or soft tissues, and cardiac issues.  In addition, the group allegedly submitted false billings for expensive imaging services, including retroperitoneal ultrasounds, Doppler scans, transrectal ultrasounds and pelvic x-rays.  These imaging services allegedly resulted in a total of more than 40,000 false claims made to the New York Medicaid program. Continue reading

The UPMC – Highmark Dispute: The Beginning of the End of Medical Practices Using Hospitals’ Managed Care Contract Rates?

Recent trends across the country have health systems buying out private physician practices and reclassifying them as hospital-outpatient departments.  There are a number of motivations behind these transactions, the greatest being managed care contracting.  Typically, the physician practice will reassign its Medicare NPI Number to the Hospital and the Hospital will then bill exclusively under that NPI number.  The Hospital will also submit claims to the third party payor and receive payments based on the hospital’s negotiated contract rates and fee schedule.

Critics, including a number of insurers, have claimed that this practice allows the hospital to bill higher rates for the same service at the same location.  For this reason, on February 26, 2014, Highmark, a  Blue Cross Blue Shield company based in Pittsburgh, stated that it would stop reimbursing health systems at higher hospital-outpatient rates for cancer treatment performed in physician offices.  Highmark explained that this move would save patients’ money by reducing out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-insurance. Continue reading

Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Expands Telehealth Coverage in 2014

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently released the final rule for Medicare’s Physician Fee Schedule for 2014 Calendar Year (“CY).  While physicians are expected to see a 20.1% reduction to their Medicare payments, the Fee Schedule also includes expanded coverage for telehealth services and increased reimbursement payments for such services. Continue reading

NYS Identifies $496 Million in Medicaid Home Health Erroneous Payments

On October 30, 2013, the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”) issued a press release that New York recovered $211 million from the federal government out of an identified $496 million in Medicaid erroneous payments related to home care recipients who are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid funds.  On October 1, 2013, the New York State Department of Health’s Fiscal Group received the $211 million payment through the action of OMIG, which was the largest single monetary recovery in OMIG’s history.

These payments were recovered by New York State as part of a federal project, the Third-Party Liability Home Health Care Demonstration Project, which is reviewing home health care involving dual eligible recipients, and is being conducted in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Continue reading

OIG Report: Finds Questionable Billing of Nearly $17 Million for Sleep Study Services

On October 9, 2013, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Office of Evaluation and Inspections (OEI) issued a report (OEI-05-12-00340) entitled “Questionable Billing for Polysomnography Services.”  The report found that Medicare paid nearly $17 million for sleep study (polysomnography) services that did not meet one or more of the three Medicare requirements and that 180 providers demonstrated patterns of questionable billing for these services.  The OIG chose to study this issue because Medicare spending for sleep study services rose from $407 million to $565 million from 2005 to 2011, and fraud investigators and sleep medicine professionals have identified specific vulnerabilities regarding polysomnography services.  The findings of the OIG’s report are significant because just as we accurately predicted that the OIG’s December 2010 Report: “Questionable Billing by Skilled Nursing Facilities” would generate increased investigations of therapy services for skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”), the findings in this Report represents an area in which sleep study service providers can also expect increased enforcement. Continue reading

OIG Issues Report Finding Inconsistencies in Medicare Billing for Hospice Inpatient Stays

On May 3, 2013, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Office of Evaluation and Inspections (OEI) issued a report (OEI-02-10-00490) entitled “Medicare Hospice:  Use of General Inpatient Care.”  The report found that while Medicare paid $1.1 billion for hospice general inpatient care (“GIP”) in 2011, there were unusual Medicare billing patterns for hospice inpatient stays, raising concerns about whether the stays were billed appropriately and whether the patients received the right level of care. Continue reading

CMS Releases Guidance For 2% Sequester Reduction In Medicare Payment

On March 8, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a message to health care providers and suppliers which clarifies the application of the 2% sequester reduction in Medicare payment.  Specifically, President Obama issued a sequestration order on March 1, 2013, carrying out the requirement under the Budget Control Act of 2011 for mandatory, across-the-board reductions in federal spending, which had been postponed for two months by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Continue reading