In May, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) proposed a new rule (Rule) that would implement changes included in the ACA. The Rule would expand OIG’s authority to exclude individuals and entities from participation in federal health care programs, among other changes.
The Rule would build on OIG’s existing authority, but enable the agency to impose penalties for a broader array of conduct. OIG currently has the authority to exclude individuals and entities from participation in federal health care programs who are deemed “untrustworthy.” Certain bases for exclusion require OIG to impose a mandatory exclusion period of at least five years. Other bases allow OIG broad discretion to determine whether to impose an exclusion and for how long.
The Rule change includes three proposed bases for permissive exclusion: (1) conviction related to the obstruction of an audit; (2) failure to supply payment information for items or services; and (3) to make, or cause to be made, false statements, omissions, or misrepresentations of material facts in an application to participate in a federal health care program.
In addition, the Rule would give OIG the power to issue testimonial subpoenas during exclusion investigations, and remove any statute of limitations on exclusion actions stemming from false claims proceedings. The proposed removal of the statute of limitations would give the authority to impose exclusions at any time, even when the exclusion is due to violations of another statute that might have a specified time limit. OIG considered but did not finalize a similar provision in 2002. The Rule also includes a proposition to modify exclusion reinstatement rules such that individuals excluded as a result of losing their licenses could rejoin the federal health care programs earlier if they meet certain criteria.
Comments to the Rule are due on July 8, 2014.