On Monday, August 4, 2014, The Department of Justice announced that Community Health Systems (“CHS”), the nation’s largest operator of acute care hospitals, agreed to pay $98.15 million to settle nine whistleblower lawsuits alleging that the company violated the False Claims Act between January 2005 and December 2010. The whistleblowers alleged that CHS knowingly billed Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE for medically unnecessary inpatient admissions rather than the lower outpatient or observation rates at 119 hospitals. Additionally, allegations were made that services were rendered to patients at one of CHS’s hospitals in Laredo, Texas by a physician who was offered a medical directorship in violation of the physician self-referral law, known as the Stark Law.
Under the settlement, CHS entered into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement requiring it to retain independent review organizations to review the accuracy of the claims for inpatient services under federal health care programs, and to engage in significant compliance efforts over the next five years.
The allegations against CHS are particularly notable in light of new regulations such as the two-midnight rule, which took effect October 1, 2013. The two-midnight rule requires that physicians deem a patient’s condition as serious enough to require at least two overnight stays in order to qualify for Medicare reimbursement under inpatient rates. Patients who aren’t formally admitted may remain under outpatient or observation status. Emergency and internal medicine physicians often struggle to get the right designation and status for the patient. The federal government has delayed enforcement of the rule until March 31, 2015 at which time hospitals may face financial penalties if auditors determine the hospital could have met the patient’s needs in an outpatient setting.
For more information on the CHS settlement, the two-midnight rule, the Stark Law, the Anti-Kickback Statute, or related fraud and abuse issues, please feel free to contact Daniel Meier or any member of our health care practice group for a further discussion.
You can find a more extensive discussion about the CHS settlement, the impact of observation status on patients and the two-midnight rule in the following Client Bulletin.
Posted in Acute Care, Administration on Aging, Anti-Kickback, Compliance Programs, Corporate Integrity Agreements, DHHS, Fraud and Abuse, Health & Human Services, Health Care, Health Care Providers, Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare, Nursing Facility, OIG, Out-Patient Care, Regulatory Compliance, Self-Referral, Settlements, Tennessee
Tagged Admission, Investigation, Observation, Two Midnight Rule
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court recently upheld a DHHS Departmental Appeals Board decision that found a skilled nursing facility’s (“SNF”) deficiencies were at an “immediate jeopardy” level relating to a failure to notify a physician or family member of a significant change in a patient’s condition. See, Claiborne-Hughes Health Center v. Sebelius, 6th Cir. No 09-3239, 6/25/10. Continue reading
Posted in Administrative Appeals, Civil Litigation, DAB Decisions, Health Care, Health Care Providers, Long Term Care, Medicare, Nursing Facility, Nursing Home, Post Acute Care, Skilled Nursing Facility, Tennessee
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court recently upheld a DHHS Departmental Appeals Board decision that found a skilled nursing facility’s (“SNF”) deficiencies were at an “immediate jeopardy” level relating to a failure to notify a physician or family member of a significant change in a patient’s condition. See, Claiborne-Hughes Health Center v. Sebelius, 6th Cir. No 09-3239, 6/25/10.
The Claiborne-Hughes Health Center is a SNF in Franklin, TN. The decision was based upon surveyors findings that the facility failed to comply with 42 C.F.R. §483.10(b)(11). Section 483.10(b)(11) requires a facility to immediately consult with a resident’s physician and notify the resident’s family members or legal representation when there is a significant change in a resident’s physical, mental, or psychosocial status.
The failure to comply with the applicable regulation related to Claiborne-Hughes’ policy on recording patient fluid-intake. Surveys completed in August and September of 2006 revealed that the facility was not sufficiently monitoring patient fluid intake in accordance with its own policies.
A copy of the decision can be found at – http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-6th-circuit/1529702.html
Posted in Civil Litigation, DAB Decisions, Health Care, Health Care Providers, Nursing Home, Participation, Post Acute Care, Tennessee
Tagged ALJ Decisions, Certification, CMS, Conditions of Participation, Departmental Appeals Board, Immediate Jeopardy, Medicaid, Medicare Enrollment, Nursing Home, Skilled Nursing Facility, SNF