Tag Archives: Fraud Prevention

Insulating your healthcare practice from fraud takedowns

Takedowns are a practice used by federal prosecutors to send a deterrent message to certain industries where the incidence of fraud and criminal activity may be widespread. When federal law enforcement conducts takedowns, they work with law enforcement nationwide and execute the takedowns at the same time. When these takedowns occur simultaneously, there is little warning before an investigator contacts individuals suspected or reported to be engaged in illegal conduct. The healthcare industry is a focus of federal investigators following tips on Medicare fraud. From over billing to treating non-existent or non-qualified patients, Medicare fraud is a compelling problem and task forces are organized and specialized in investigating claims and preparing for nationwide takedowns. Some in the industry predict, based on an increase in enforcement activity, that the Chicago area could be a target for takedowns during the summer of 2017.

The opportunity to insulate your healthcare practice from civil and criminal liability

Awareness of the focus on healthcare fraud leads to an opportunity for healthcare administrators and professionals to review their practices, the trends in fraud, and make any changes to the organization to prevent being targeted in enforcement investigations.

The resources used in using healthcare lawyers to perform health-care fraud and compliance audits are well allocated when the alternative significant civil and criminal fines and penalties could be assessed against your healthcare organization if an investigation leads to adverse findings.

Your healthcare attorney can audit your healthcare systems and help you maintain compliance with federal laws and regulations. Everyone in your administration should be aware of compliance and anti-fraud measures. Being able to demonstrate this preventative practice may be essential in the event of an investigation.

What happens if an investigator visits you and informs you of inquiry

How your hospital or medical practice responds to an initial inquiry of an investigator is imperative. Ahead of time, you should know a healthcare attorney you can contact immediately and you should be aware of how they will advise and represent you if necessary. Even if you believe that your practice is compliant and not in any risk, it is not a good idea to represent yourself without a lawyer when visiting with and responding to investigators.

Your attorney may help satisfy the investigators concerns uniquely, where they know what kind of questions they may ask and how to best communicate your compliance and anti-fraud efforts.

If an investigator contacts you it is important to be polite and offer to assist and comply with their requests. You may ask them for contact information you will give to your attorney to also assist. You do not need to answer any of their questions without your lawyer present. A professional investigator will be accustomed to the request for legal counsel and you should not worry about that looking like any suggestion or admission of wrongdoing or guilt.

About us: Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent private individuals as well as healthcare professionals in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. Michael V. Favia & Associates is available at (773) 631-4580. Please visit www.favialawfirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his Avvo.com profile and on LinkedIn.

 

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Illinois physicians and healthcare professionals: Are you prepared in the event of an OIG audit or review?

Not only do healthcare providers need to be concerned with federal compliance with government funded benefit programs like Medicare, there are state compliance agencies who oversee and audit physicians and healthcare systems to make sure there are no shortcomings in the state-funded benefit systems. In Illinois, the Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) operates as a division of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The OIG’s stated mission is, “to prevent, detect and eliminate fraud, waste, abuse, misconduct and mismanagement in programs administered by Healthcare and Family Services and the Department of Human Services.[i]” The OIG focuses its efforts in fraud prevention, investigations, audits and reviews, sanctions and restrictions, and safety and security.

The OIG in Illinois is highly focused on preventing fraud on the Illinois Medicaid Program and it uses advanced technologies and methods to detect and track activities that could be fraudulent. When possible the OIG conducts preventative verifications of the people and systems involved in tracking medical equipment, the prescribing and delivery of medications and healthcare services.

Illinois Medicaid Fraud Investigations

Fraud can stem from many sources including public aid recipients as well as employees and healthcare service contractors. When a report is made that fraudulent activity may be occurring, the OIG is tasked with investigations to determine if a fraud is being perpetrated on the system. The OIG works closely with a variety of state agencies and authorities to investigate and stop fraud. When an investigation produces significant proof of fraudulent conduct the proper agencies may arrest and bring criminal charges against any individuals involved in defrauding the state.

Audits and Reviews in the Illinois Medicaid Program

In addition to investigating suspected fraud cases, the OIG also conducts a variety of audits and reviews of the Illinois Medicaid System:

  1. Post-payment compliance audits – are all the payments made to Medicaid providers identified and proper?
  2. Quality of care reviews – are proper healthcare services being performed for patients who rely on state funded Medicaid and related programs?
  3. Eligibility reviews – are the people receiving Illinois Medicaid eligible within the system requirements?

What to do if you receive notice of an audit or review by the OIG

In the event the OIG notifies you that they are planning an audit or a review of your healthcare practice, policies and procedures in connection with the application or receipt of reimbursements from Illinois Medicaid or any other program under the authority of the OIG, it is important to immediately contact a healthcare attorney to make sure you are properly organized and prepared to cooperate with the audit or review.

While there may be advanced notice or warning of an audit or review, in cases where a fraud report has been filed with the OIG and they have already been investigating the complaint in the background, the audit might be less routine and more of an evidence gathering exercise. The advice to call a lawyer still applies, and moreover, talking to a lawyer before there is any reason to worry about an audit is a good idea. Just as you maintain a malpractice policy and never plan to use it, maintaining a plan of action in the event of an OIG audit is a prudent move for any healthcare provider.

Michael V. Favia is an experienced healthcare attorney who worked for the State of Illinois and knows first-hand how state investigations and prosecutions proceed and how to properly cooperate.

The former Chief of Prosecutions for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, now known as the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (“IDFPR”), Michael V. Favia advises and represents healthcare professionals and organizations in a variety of matters, including routine, and not-so-routine audits, reviews and investigations. Favia knows the state regulatory schema and system and can help healthcare professionals craft a plan and be prepared in the event the OIG or another agency comes knocking at their office door.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent licensed physicians in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please call (773) 631-4850, visit www.favialawfirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his Avvo.com profile and on LinkedIn.

 

[i] IL Dept. of Health and Family Services, Office of the Inspector General, mission.