Data Mining, Statistical Profiling Play Key Role In Arrest of Dallas Doctor, Office Manager & 5 Home Health Agency Owners

February 29, 2012

Volume, Cutting Edge Treatment or Other Statistical Variations in Care Patterns

Increasingly Raise Potential Fraud Examination Risk

Federal regulators credit sophisticated statistical profiling and other new fraud investigation tools with playing a key role in the federal health care fraud investigation that lead to the arrest on health care fraud indictments today (February 28, 2012) of a Dallas-area physician, the office manager of his medical practice, and five home health agency owners. The Dallas-area defendants charged in the indictments unsealed today face health care fraud charges related to their alleged participation in a nearly $375 million health care fraud scheme involving fraudulent claims for home health services.  In a related action, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) suspended an additional 78 home health agencies (HHA) associated with defendant Roy based on what CMS views as credible allegations of fraud against them.

Federal officials say today’s arrests and CMS suspensions resulted from Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations conducted by the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT).   HEAT is a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce anti-fraud laws around the country.  Justice Department officials say the conduct charged in this indictment represents the single largest fraud amount orchestrated by one doctor in the history of the HEAT initiative.

Dallas Home Health Care Indictments

Filed in the Northern District of Texas, the indictment unsealed February 28, 2012 charges Jacques Roy, M.D., 54, of Rockwall, Texas; Cynthia Stiger, 49, of Dallas; Wilbert James Veasey Jr., 60, of Dallas; Cyprian Akamnonu, 63, of Cedar Hill, Texas; Patricia Akamnonu, RN, 48, of Cedar Hill; Teri Sivils, 44, of Midlothian, Texas; and Charity Eleda, RN, 51, of Rowlett, Texas, each with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.   Roy also is charged with nine counts of substantive health care fraud.  Veasey, Patricia Akamnonu and Eleda each are charged with three counts of health care fraud.   Eleda also is charged with three counts of making false statements related to a Medicare claim

According to the indictment, Dr. Roy owned and operated Medistat Group Associates P.A. in the Dallas area. Medistat was an association of health care providers that primarily provided home health certifications and performed patient home visits. Federal officials charge that Dr. Roy allegedly certified or directed the certification of more than 11,000 individual patients from more than 500 HHAs for home health services during the past five years.   Between January 2006 and November 2011, Medistat certified more Medicare beneficiaries for home health services and had more purported patients than any other medical practice in the United States.  Federal officials charge these certifications allegedly resulted in more than $350 million being fraudulently billed to Medicare and more than $24 million being fraudulently billed to Medicaid by Medistat and HHAs.

The indictment charges Dr. Roy used HHAs as recruiters so that Medistat could bill unnecessary home visits and medical services. The indictment charges three of the HHAs Dr. Roy used as part of the scheme were Apple of Your Eye Healthcare Services Inc., owned and operated by Stiger and Veasey; Ultimate Care Home Health Services Inc., owned and operated by Cyprian and Patricia Akamnonu; and Charry Home Care Services Inc., owned and operated by Eleda.  According to the indictment, Veasey, Akamnonu, Eleda and others recruited beneficiaries to be placed at their HHAs so that they could bill Medicare for the unnecessary and not provided services.  As part of her role in the scheme, Eleda allegedly visited The Bridge Homeless Shelter in Dallas to recruit homeless beneficiaries staying at the facility, paying recruiters $50 per beneficiary they found at The Bridge and directed to Eleda’s vehicle parked outside the shelter’s gates.

According to the indictment, Medistat maintained a “485 Department,” named for the number of the Medicare form on which the plan of care was documented.   Dr. Roy allegedly instructed Medistat employees to complete the 485s by either signing his name by hand or by using his electronic signature on the document.  Federal officials claim Dr. Roy and other Medistat physicians used this process to certify and recertify plans of care so that HHAs also were able to bill Medicare for home health services that were not medically necessary and not provided. In addition, Dr. Roy allegedly performed unnecessary home visits and ordered unnecessary medical services.

Apple allegedly submitted claims to Medicare from Jan. 1, 2006, through July 31, 2011, totaling $9,157,646 for home health services to Medicare beneficiaries that were medically unnecessary and not provided.   Dr. Roy or another Medistat physician certified the services.  From Jan. 1, 2006, to Aug. 31, 2011, Ultimate submitted claims for medically unnecessary home health services totaling $43,184,628.   Charry allegedly submitted fraudulent claims from Aug. 1, 2008, to June 30, 2011, totaling $468,858 in medically unnecessary and not provided home health services.

The indictment alleges that Sivils, as Medistat’s office manager, helped facilitate the fraud scheme by, among other actions, supervising the processing of thousands of plans of care that contained Dr. Roy’s electronic signature and other Medistat physicians’ signatures, permitting HHAs to bill Medicare for unnecessary home health services and accepting cash payments from Cyprian Akamnonu in exchange for ensuring plans of care contained Dr. Roy or another Medistat physician’s signature.

As outlined in the government’s request to the court to detain Dr. Roy, in June 2011, CMS suspended provider numbers for Dr. Roy and Medistat based on credible allegations of fraud, thus ensuring Dr. Roy did not receive payment from Medicare.   Immediately after the suspension, nearly all of Medistat’s employees started billing Medicare under the provider number for Medcare House Calls.   The court document alleges that Dr. Roy was in fact in charge of day-to-day operations at Medcare, and that Dr. Roy continued to certify patients for home health despite the suspension.

Each charged count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and substantive health care fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.   Each false statement charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.   The indictment also seeks forfeiture of numerous items including funds in bank accounts, a sailboat, vehicles and multiple pieces of property.

In announcing the indictment, Federal officials said an indictment is merely an allegation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

New Data Mining & Other Anti-Fraud Tools Credited

In announcing the indictments, federal officials credited new data analysis mining and other fraud fighting tools with playing a key role in uncovering the alleged misconduct leading to the indictment against the Medistat defendants and as well as growing list of other federal health care fraud defendants.

Legal reforms and new resources granted under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) and various other legal changes have beefed up the fraud detection and fighting powers of Federal health care fraud investigators and prosecutors.  

Of particular note in the Medistat investigation and a growing number of other cases are new data mining tools. 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.” 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.

The Medistat indictments illustrate how the HEAT team is using these new tools.  “Using sophisticated data analysis we can now target suspicious billing spikes,” said HHS Inspector General Levinson. “In this case, our analysts discovered that in 2010, while 99 percent of physicians who certified patients for home health signed off on 104 or fewer people – Dr. Roy certified more than 5,000.”

Using these data mining an a host of other new fraud fighting resources created under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) and other recently enacted laws, the HEAT Task Force and other federal health care fraud investigators are enjoying record successes in deploying these tools to achieve successful health care fraud prosecutions.  Government’s health care fraud prevention and enforcement efforts recovered nearly $4.1 billion in taxpayer dollars in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 according to the FY 2011 Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program Report  jointly released by HHS and the Justice Department on February 14, 2012.

In addition to the data mining tools highlighted in the Medistat indictments, other new tools helping to boost the success of federal health care fraud investigation and prosecution include:

  • Tough new rules and sentences for criminals
  • Enhanced screening and other enrollment requirements
  • Increased coordination of fraud prevention efforts
  • Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT)
  • New focus on compliance and prevention
  • Expanded overpayment recovery efforts
  • New durable medical equipment (DME) requirements
  • An additional $350 million over 10 years to ramp up anti-fraud efforts
  • Greater oversight of private insurance abuses
  • Senior Medicare Patrols

The continuing success of these and other federal health care fraud investigation and enforcement efforts continue to demonstrate the need for health care providers and payers to strengthen their compliance practices and documentation to avoid getting caught in the ever tightening health care fraud dragnet.

Health Care Providers Must Act To Manage Risks

In response to the growing emphasis and effectiveness of Federal officials in investigating and taking action against health care providers and organizations, health care providers covered by federal false claims, referral, kickback and other health care fraud laws should consider auditing the adequacy of existing practices, tightening training, oversight and controls on billing and other regulated conduct, reaffirming their commitment to compliance to workforce members and constituents and taking other appropriate steps to help prevent, detect and timely redress health care fraud exposures within their organization and to position their organization to respond and defend against potential investigations or charges.

For More Information Or Assistance

If you need assistance reviewing or responding to these or other health care related risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Her experience includes advising hospitals, nursing home, home health, rehabilitation and other health care providers and health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies; prevent, conduct and investigate, and respond to peer review and other quality concerns; and to respond to Board of Medicine, Department of Aging & Disability, Drug Enforcement Agency, OCR Privacy and Civil Rights, HHS, DOD and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns.

A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance responding to concerns about the matters discussed in this publication or other health care concerns, wish to obtain information about arranging for training or presentations by Ms. Stamer, wish to suggest a topic for a future program or update, or wish to request other information or materials, please contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns from Ms. Stamer, see here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication click here. 

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2012 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


ONC Releases Proposed Rules For Meaningful Use Stage 2

February 23, 2012

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  for Stage 2 Meaningful Use (Proposed Rule) in the Federal Register today (February 23).

The Proposed Rule available here outlines the next stage of meaningful use for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs administered by CMS.

CMS has developed a fact sheet to give providers an overview of the rule and how Stage 2 expands upon Stage 1 of meaningful use. The fact sheet can be found here.

For More Information Or Assistance

If you need assistance reviewing or responding to these or other health care related technology, risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Her experience includes advising hospitals, nursing home, home health, rehabilitation and other health care providers, health care technology and other health industry clients to set up and administer privacy and technology; workforce and staffing; operations; compliance and risk management policies; prevent, conduct and investigate, and respond to peer review and other quality concerns; and to respond to Board of Medicine, Department of Aging & Disability, Drug Enforcement Agency, OCR Privacy and Civil Rights, HHS, DOD and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns.

A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, technology, privacy, quality assurance and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. Her presentations and programs including a wide range of works on health care privacy and technology and other health industry matters.

Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance responding to concerns about the matters discussed in this publication or other health care concerns, wish to obtain information about arranging for training or presentations by Ms. Stamer, wish to suggest a topic for a future program or update, or wish to request other information or materials, please contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns from Ms. Stamer, see  here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication click here. 

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2012 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


DOJ & HHS Health Care Fraud Enforcement Nets $4 Billion + In 2011

February 21, 2012

Government’s health care fraud prevention and enforcement efforts recovered nearly $4.1 billion in taxpayer dollars in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 according to the FY 2011 Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program Report  jointly released by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)  and the Justice Department on Valentines Day. This is the highest annual amount ever recovered from individuals and companies who attempted to defraud seniors and taxpayers or who sought payments to which they were not entitled. These latest statistics should leave little room for doubt that health care providers need to exercise care to manage fraud investigation and exposures risks.

The Justice Department and HHS credit this fraud investigation and enforcement success to their vigorous use of enhanced fraud investigation and enforcement tools created under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) and other recently enacted laws, including:

  • 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.

The continuing success of these and other federal health care fraud investigation and enforcement efforts continue to demonstrate the need for health care providers and payers to strengthen their compliance practices and documentation to avoid getting caught in the ever tightening health care fraud dragnet.

Act To Manage Risks

In response to the growing emphasis and effectiveness of Federal officials in investigating and taking action against health care providers and organizations, health care providers covered by federal false claims, referral, kickback and other health care fraud laws should consider auditing the adequacy of existing practices, tightening training, oversight and controls on billing and other regulated conduct, reaffirming their commitment to compliance to workforce members and constituents and taking other appropriate steps to help prevent, detect and timely redress health care fraud exposures within their organization and to position their organization to respond and defend against potential investigations or charges.

For More Information Or Assistance

If you need assistance reviewing or responding to these or other health care related risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Her experience includes advising hospitals, nursing home, home health, rehabilitation and other health care providers and health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies; prevent, conduct and investigate, and respond to peer review and other quality concerns; and to respond to Board of Medicine, Department of Aging & Disability, Drug Enforcement Agency, OCR Privacy and Civil Rights, HHS, DOD and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns.

A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. Her presentations and programs include How to Ensure That Your Organization Is In Compliance With Regulations Governing Discrimination, as well as a wide range of other workshops, programs and publications on discrimination and cultural diversity, as well as a broad range of compliance, operational and risk management, and other health industry matters.

Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance responding to concerns about the matters discussed in this publication or other health care concerns, wish to obtain information about arranging for training or presentations by Ms. Stamer, wish to suggest a topic for a future program or update, or wish to request other information or materials, please contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns from Ms. Stamer, see  here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication click here. 

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2012 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Update Charity and Sliding Fee Scale Policies For 2012 Federal Poverty Rate Changes

February 21, 2012

Health care and other social service agencies should review and update their charity care or sliding fee scale policies in response to the 2012 Poverty Guidelines published in late January by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published updated federal poverty guidelines for 2012. See here.  Today, the U.S. Department of Labor followed up by releasing its updated 2012 Poverty Guidelines

Many federal programs use the federal poverty guidelines as one criterion for federal program eligibility.  For example, the Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP) programs determine eligibility largely on the basis of whether the applicant’s income is below the federal poverty guidelines.  Other programs determine financial eligibility based on a percentage or multiplier of the federal poverty guidelines (for example, 125 percent of federal poverty guidelines).  In addition, the federal poverty guidelines are used in the immigration context, such as the required Affidavit of Support.

For 2012, the federal poverty guideline in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C., for a family of 4 is 23,050.  For each additional person, the poverty guideline goes up by  $3,960.  Alaska and Hawaii have slightly higher poverty guidelines. 

Many health care and social services organizations, especially non-profit organizations, use a sliding fee scale or fee waiver based on the federal poverty guidelines.  In addition, many health care organizations base their charitable care policies on the federal poverty guidelines.  While use of the federal poverty guidelines is not mandated by law except by federally funded programs, keep in mind that the Joint Commission as part of its accreditation and survey process may ask whether the organization has used the most recent update to the federal poverty guidelines in its sliding scale or fee waiver policies.  Therefore, if your organization will be surveyed in the near future, you should review the charity care or fee waiver policies as part of your preparation for the survey.

For More Information Or Assistance

If you need help reviewing or responding to health care related policy, risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Her experience includes advising hospitals, nursing home, home health, rehabilitation and other health care providers and health industry clients to set up and administer compliance and risk management policies; prevent, conduct and investigate, and respond to peer review and other quality concerns; and to respond to Board of Medicine, Department of Aging & Disability, Drug Enforcement Agency, OCR Privacy and Civil Rights, HHS, DOD and other health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns.

A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns. 

Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need help responding to concerns about the matters discussed in this publication or other health care concerns, wish to get information about arranging for training or presentations by Ms. Stamer, wish to suggest a topic for a future program or update, or wish to request other information or materials, please contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns from Ms. Stamer, see  here.

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication click here. 

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2012 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


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