Fraud and Abuse

Largest Criminal Health Care Fraud Takedown – 243 Charged and $712 Million in False Billings

Posted by Ryan Blaney on June 18, 2015
DOJ, FBI, Fraud and Abuse, HHS, Hospital, Medicare / No Comments

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On June 18, 2015, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell and DOJ Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced nationwide arrests in Medicare fraud schemes amounting to approximately $712 million in false billings.  Attorney General Lynch described the strike as “the largest criminal health care fraud takedown in the history of the Department of Justice, and it adds to an already remarkable record of enforcement.”

According to the Department of Justice Press Release the takedown was led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and resulted in 243 individuals, including 46 doctors, nurses and licensed medical professionals, being charged with Medicare fraud.  This Strike Force targeted false billings for the following services:

  • Home Health
  • Psychotherapy
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • DME
  • Pharmacy Fraud

The nationwide sweep included Florida, Texas, California, Louisiana, New York and Michigan.  Miami was a particular focus with 73 defendants charged and $263 million of false billings for home health, mental health and pharmacy services.

This nationwide sweep involved significant coordination between multiple government enforcement agencies and illustrates the government’s joint efforts to target health care fraud.  Included in the press conference were FBI Director James B. Comey, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and Deputy Administrator and Director of CMS Center for Program Integrity Dr. Shantanu Agrawal.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell spoke and emphasized the Criminal Division’s increased focus on Medicare fraud stating,  “Every day, the Criminal Division is more strategic in our approach to prosecuting Medicare Fraud.  We obtain and analyze billing data in real-time.  We target hot spots – areas of the country and the types of health care services where the billing data shows the potential for a high volume of fraud – and we are speeding up our investigations.  By doing this, we are increasingly able to stop schemes at the developmental stage, and to prevent them from spreading to other parts of the country.”

For further information contact Ryan P. Blaney or any member of Cozen O’Connor’s health care team.

Ryan Blaney

Ryan represents health care and life sciences clients in a wide range of litigation, regulatory, and transactional matters, but has particular experience in the areas of privacy law compliance and health care fraud litigation. In his regulatory and transactional practice, Ryan serves public and private health care companies, academic medical centers, health systems, hospitals and physician organizations, manufacturers, medical devices, information technology and health plans

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Proposed Expansion of OIG’s Exclusion Authority

Posted by Ryan Blaney on June 05, 2014
ACA, Affordable Care Act, HHS, OIG / 1 Comment

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.

Ryan Blaney

Ryan represents health care and life sciences clients in a wide range of litigation, regulatory, and transactional matters, but has particular experience in the areas of privacy law compliance and health care fraud litigation. In his regulatory and transactional practice, Ryan serves public and private health care companies, academic medical centers, health systems, hospitals and physician organizations, manufacturers, medical devices, information technology and health plans

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Taking Aim in 2013: The Government Points Two Barrels at Preventing and Punishing Healthcare Fraud and Abuse

Posted by William P. Conaboy Jr. on November 16, 2012
Affordable Care Act, Fraud and Abuse, HIPAA, HITECH, Medicaid, Medicare / No Comments

A few weeks ago we posted on this Blog an article highlighting the “gathering storm” surrounding HIPAA enforcement and predicted an ominous future for hospitals and other providers who fail to develop and maintain adequate HIPAA compliance policies.  While there is no doubt the future is bleak for those unwilling to abide by HIPAA’s mandate, the forecast for providers who commit healthcare fraud is equally devastating.  This is because, in 2013, the federal government will attack healthcare fraud from two angles. First, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), per the terms of its 2013 Work Plan (“Work Plan”), will review many of the government’s anti-fraud efforts to maximize recovery of Medicare and Medicaid overpayments.  Second, many of the new anti-fraud provisions in the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) will kick into high gear now that the result of the presidential election has guaranteed the law’s survival. Continue reading…

William P. Conaboy Jr.

Bill Conaboy is an associate in the firm’s Healthcare Law Group. Prior to working with the firm Bill earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm D), and is currently a licensed pharmacist and attorney in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Bill focuses on regulatory and litigation matters related to many areas of healthcare law.

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