LEEDer Group Inc.
8508 North West 66th St.
Miami, Florida 33166 USA

Phone: 305.436.5030
Fax: 305.436.0086
E-mail Address: info {at] LEEDerGroup [dot] com

2012-02 New Tools to Fight Fraud, Strengthen Federal Health Programs, and Protect Taxpayer Dollars

New Tools to Fight Fraud, Strengthen Federal Health Programs, and Protect Taxpayer Dollars
  • The Affordable Care Act takes historic steps toward combating health care fraud, waste and abuse by providing critical new tools to crack down on entities and individuals attempting to defraud Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and private insurance plans.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is using state-of-the-art technology review claims before they are paid to track fraud trends and flag suspect activity. New power to fight fraud, granted in the health reform law, will also help achieve the 2012 goal of cutting the rate of improper payment claims in the traditional Medicare program by half.
Summary of Fraud Prevention Accomplishments Under the Affordable Care Act
  • Tough New Rules and Sentences for Criminals: The Affordable Care Act increases the federal sentencing guidelines for health care fraud offenses by 20-50 percent for crimes that involve more than $1 million in losses. The law establishes penalties for obstructing a fraud investigation or audit and makes it easier for the government to recapture any funds acquired through fraudulent practices. The law also makes it easier for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate potential fraud or wrongdoing at facilities like nursing homes. Convictions under the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program increased by over 27 percent (583 to 743) between 2009 and 2011, and the number of defendants facing criminal charges filed by federal prosecutors in 2011 increased by 74 percent compared with 2008 (1430 vs. 821).
  • Enhanced Screening and Other Enrollment Requirements: Last year CMS published rules to enforce some of the Affordable Care Act’s most powerful new fraud prevention tools. New requirements for providers and suppliers wishing to participate in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP who may pose a higher risk of fraud or abuse are now required to undergo a higher level of scrutiny. This scrutiny includes licensure checks and site visits to confirm legitimacy and location.
  • To support the Affordable Care Act’s new requirements for risk-based provider enrollment CMS implemented a new Automated Provider Screening (APS) system in December 2011. The APS uses existing information from public and private sources to automatically and continuously verify information submitted on a provider’s Medicare enrollment application including licensure status. The new system replaces the time- and resource-intensive process of manual review of the enrollment application.
  • In addition to the enhanced enrollment and screening requirements, the Affordable Care Act also allows the Secretary to impose a temporary moratorium on newly enrolling providers or suppliers of a particular type or in certain geographic areas if necessary to prevent or combat fraud, waste, and abuse. CMS will publish a Federal Register notice to announce any enrollment moratorium and to explain the agency’s rationale for its action.
  • Increased Coordination of Fraud Prevention Efforts: Many of the Affordable Care Act antifraud provisions increase coordination among states, CMS, and its law enforcement partners at the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and DOJ. For instance, the law expressly authorizes CMS, in consultation with OIG, to suspend Medicare payments to providers or suppliers during the investigation of a credible allegation of fraud. This initiative reverses a long-standing Medicare practice of paying claims then attempting to recoup funds if the claim is found to be an error or fraudulent. States must also withhold payments to Medicaid providers where there is a pending investigation of a credible allegation of fraud unless the State Medicaid agency has good cause not to do so. The Affordable Care Act also ensures that fraudulent providers and suppliers cannot move easily from state to state or between Medicare and Medicaid by requiring all states to terminate anyone whose billing privileges have been revoked by Medicare or who has been terminated by another state Medicaid program for cause.
  • Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT): One of the most visible examples of increased collaboration is the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint effort between HHS and DOJ to fight health care fraud. It has engaged law enforcement and professional staff at the highest levels of HHS and DOJ to increase coordination, intelligence sharing, and training among investigators, agents, prosecutors, analysts, and policymakers. A key component of HEAT is the Medicare Strike Force: interagency teams of analysts, investigators, and prosecutors who can target emerging or migrating fraud schemes, including fraud by criminals masquerading as health care providers or suppliers.
  • In 2011, HEAT coordinated the largest-ever federal health care fraud takedown. In one action, Strike Force teams charged 115 defendants in nine cities, including doctors, nurses, health care company owners and executives, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving more than $240 million in false billing. In another takedown, Strike Force prosecution teams charged 91 defendants in eight cities for their alleged participation in a Medicare fraud scheme involving more than $290 million in false billings.
  • Use of State-of-the-Art Fraud Detection Technology: To target resources to highly suspect behaviors, CMS has implemented the new Fraud Prevention System, which uses advanced predictive modeling technology to fight fraud. The system has been screening all Medicare fee-for-service claims before payment is made since June 30, 2011. Much like the predictive technologies used in the credit card industry, the Fraud Prevention System uses advanced technology to identify suspicious behavior and billing irregularities. This targets investigative resources on areas of vulnerability that demand immediate attention and response. By streaming claims on a prepayment basis, CMS and its investigative partners are able to more efficiently identify fraudulent claims and respond quickly to emerging trends.
  • New Focus on Compliance and Prevention: Under the new law, some preventive measures focus on certain categories of providers and suppliers that historically have presented concerns, including Home Health agencies, and Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) suppliers.
  • On November 17, 2010, CMS published final regulations authorized under the Affordable Care Act requiring physician certification of a patient’s “face-to-face? visit with an appropriate health care professional to ensure Medicare only pays for necessary and covered Medicare home health and hospice services. On July 12, 2011, CMS proposed “face-to-face? encounter requirements for Medicaid home health including medical supplies, equipment and appliances. Additional face-to-face requirements to combat fraud among Medicare DME suppliers will be proposed later this year.
  • Expanded Overpayment Recovery Efforts: The Affordable Care Act expands the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program to Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D programs. The Medicaid RAC program became effective on January 1, 2012 and is projected to save $2.1 billion over the next five years, of which $900 million will be returned to states. These efforts build on the success of the Medicare fee-for-service RAC program which in fiscal year 2011 recouped nearly $800 million in overpayments.
  • New Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Requirements: Under a new risk-based approach to fighting fraud, CMS has focused its efforts on combating fraud among DME suppliers by instituting enhanced enrollment standards and screening requirements. On August 27, 2010, CMS issued final rules enhancing Medicare enrollment standards for DME suppliers such as more stringent operations and facilities requirements to ensure only legitimate suppliers can participate in Medicare. Additionally, the competitive bidding program is expected to save the Medicare program and its beneficiaries $28 billion over 10 years. The second phase of the program will be expanded from 9 to 100 metropolitan areas across the country.
  • New Resources to Fight Fraud: The Affordable Care Act provides an additional $350 million over 10 years to ramp up anti-fraud efforts, including increasing scrutiny of claims before they’ve been paid, investments in sophisticated data analytics, and an increased number of law enforcement agents and others to fight fraud in the health care system.
  • Greater Oversight of Private Insurance Abuses: The new law also provides enhanced tools and authorities to address abuses of multiple employer welfare arrangements and protect employers and employees from insurance scams. It also gives new powers to the Secretary and Inspector General to investigate and audit the health insurance exchanges. This, plus the new rules to ensure accountability in the insurance industry, will protect consumers and increase the affordability of health care.
  • Senior Medicare Patrols: As a part of the new resources dedicated to fighting fraud, the Obama Administration has significantly expanded funding for Senior Medicare Patrols – groups of senior citizen volunteers to educate and empower their peers to identify, prevent and report health care fraud. The 75 percent increased funding from FY2008 to FY 2011 has helped thousands of Medicare beneficiaries host thousands of community meetings and educational events to increase awareness of fraud among people with Medicare and to solicit their help in preventing fraud.

Posted on: February 14, 2012