Category Archives: Community Based Care

Palliative Care Services Increasing Across the U.S.

Palliative care services are now more accessible to patients with serious and chronic illnesses in the United States. The Mayo Clinic defines palliative care as offering pain and symptom management and emotional and spiritual support when a patient faces a chronic, debilitating or life-threatening illness. Increasingly offered to patients of any age with a range of chronic illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, palliative care may be provided at the same time as curative medical regimens to help patients tolerate side effects of disease and treatment, and proceed with everyday life. According to a recent December 22, 2014 Wall Street Journal article, palliative care programs have increased three fold over the past decade. Many hospitals have specialized palliative care programs and 80% of hospitals with 250 beds or more provide such a program.

The provision of palliative care with or without curative treatment can lead increased patient and health care provider satisfaction, equal or better symptom control, less anxiety and depression, less caregiver distress, and potential cost savings. A patient’s quality of life can be enhanced with active and effective pain and symptom management. The need for aggressive pain and symptom management often lead patients to seek out a palliative care program to manage their symptoms during a chronic or terminal illness. Some patients also choose to utilize hospice care towards the end of their life journey after receiving services from a palliative care program. With the better availability of palliative care, those patients seeking pain relief and symptom control at any stage of their chronic or terminal illness care are able to find the services to address their needs including assisting the patient and the family to navigate the often complicated medical system.

CMS Implements Fingerprinting Background Checks for New DME and Home Health Providers

In a recently released MLN Matters (Number: SE1417), CMS announced that it is implementing the enhanced enrollment screening provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by requiring finger print based background checks for certain so called “high risk” providers. Currently this means that for newly enrolling Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetic, Orthotic and Supplies (DMEPOS) suppliers and Home Health Agencies, individuals with a 5% or greater ownership interest in the provider or supplier will be subject to criminal background checks based on fingerprint identification. The procedure will also apply to providers that CMS has elevated to the high risk category pursuant to regulations. Affected providers will be notified by their MAC and be given 30 days to comply. The notification will identify contact information for the Fingerprint Based Background Check Contractor (FBBC). Continue reading

OIG Issues Report on Limited Compliance with Medicare’s Face-to-Face Requirement for Home Health Services

On April 9, 2014, 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-01-12-00390) entitled “Limited Compliance With Medicare’s Home Health Face to Face Documentation Requirements.”

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) requires physicians to physically see and evaluate patients for home health services. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires the physicians to document this face-to-face visit as a condition of payment. The face-to-face requirement was implemented to help prevent fraud in home health. The idea is that requiring physicians to document the specifics of a face-to-face visit with a Medicare beneficiary will help prevent fraud by ensuring the physician actually saw and assessed the beneficiary before certifying the patient as eligible for home health services. Continue reading

HHS DAB Upholds Revocation of Clinic’s Medicare Provider Number

On February 20, 2014, the US Department of Health and Human Services, Departmental Appeals Board upheld CMS’ revocation of the Medicare provider number of a clinic/group practice.

In Advanced Care Medical Center v CMS (Docket No. C-13-1383/Decision No. CR3124), the DAB, Civil Remedies Division upheld CMS’ revocation of Advanced Care’s Medicare provider number.

The matter began with an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General which revealed that Advanced Care entered into a contract with a doctor, allowing him to bill for services under it’s billing number in exchange for a set reimbursement, and the doctor submitted bills under Petitioner’s billing number.   Continue reading

CMS Final Rule on Moratoria for the Enrollment of New Home Health Agencies and Ambulance Suppliers and Providers

On February 4, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued in the Federal Register a notice of temporary moratoria on enrollment of new home health agencies (HHA) and ambulance suppliers and providers in certain geographic locations across the U.S. The moratoria were effective on January 30, 2014. CMS also extended existing moratoria noticed on July 31, 2013. Continue reading

OIG Releases 2014 Work Plan

The OIG recently made available its 2014 Work Plan. The Plan identifies OIG focus areas and priority projects for the coming year. This post provides a brief summary of many of the new OIG projects for fiscal year 2014 to assist providers in keeping abreast of the latest developments in health care fraud and abuse, compliance, reimbursement, and enforcement activities. Only a small part of the Plan is summarized here. For the entire document, please follow the link below. Continue reading

Office of Inspector General Issues Strategic Plan

The Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) issued a 2014-2018 strategic plan including outlining the visions, goals, and priorities of that office for the upcoming several years. The plan sets forth four goals: 1. Fight fraud, waste and abuse; 2. Promote quality, safety, and value; 3. Secure the future; and 4. Advance excellence and innovation. Each goals is identified with several priority areas that support the stated goal. The report can be found at the OIG’s website http://go.us.gov/WdbV