Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) data showing a rise in Medicaid criminal convictions arising from fraud and patient abuse or neglect investigations and prosecutions during the 2022 fiscal year (“FY”) confirms the continued robustness of its Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs).
According to the just-released Medicaid Fraud Control Units Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report convictions both for fraud and for patient abuse or neglect increased since FY 2020. In FY 2022, MFCUs achieved:
- 1,327 criminal convictions, an increase over the previous 2 years, but resulted in criminal recoveries of only $416 million; and
- 553 civil settlements and judgments resulting in civil recoveries of $641 million.
A Statistical Chart included in the Report provides a breakdown by state of the civil and criminal convictions and recoveries by nature of the offense.
While the Report reveals that civil and criminal recoveries from Medicaid criminal and civil enforcement dropped in FY 2022, the increase in convictions and other data sends a clear warning to health care providers and others that Medicaid fraud investigation and enforcement remains a key priority of the OIG and federal prosecutors.
Total convictions resulting from MFCU cases continued to increase from the FY 2020 level but remained lower than in FY 2019. In FY 2022, MFCU cases resulted in 946 convictions for fraud and 381 convictions for patient abuse or neglect.
Exhibit 2 shows the total number of convictions during FYs 2018 through 2022. Although the proportion of patient abuse or neglect convictions to fraud convictions was similar to that in previous years, the total number of patient abuse or neglect
convictions also continued to increase from the FY 2020 level.
As in previous years, significantly more convictions for fraud involved Personal Care Services (PCS) attendants than any other provider type with fraud convictions of PCS attendants, accounting for 44 percent of the fraud convictions.
MFCU convictions related to the fraudulent billing of Medicaid, fraudulent activities of Medicaid providers involving drugs diverted from legal and medically necessary uses, regardless of whether Medicaid itself was billed and other “drug diversion” cases continued to increase from the FY 2020 level. Associated criminal recoveries from drug diversion cases totaled $18 million in FY 2022. Two States, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, accounted for 79 percent of the total convictions.
In FY 2022, convictions of nurse’s aides and of nurses or physician assistants accounted for 39 percent of the total 381 convictions for patient abuse or neglect.
Criminal and Civil Recoveries
While convictions rose, criminal recoveries decreased from $857 million in FY 2021 to $416 million in FY 2022. The Report attributes the drop in atypically large criminal recovery amounts realized in FY 2021 that resulted primarily from cases prosecuted by MFCUs in Virginia and Texas that produced a combined $714 million in criminal recoveries, 83 percent of the total reported criminal recoveries in FY 2021.
The Report points out that a single Texas criminal prosecution also significantly contributed to the total criminal recoveries in FY 2022. According to the Report, $82 million of the FY 2022 criminal recoveries resulted from the prosecution and conviction of the former head of Novus and Optimum Health Services, Bradley J. Harris and other defendants by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas for defrauding the Medicare and Medicaid programs by among other actions:
- Billing Medicare and Medicaid for hospice services that were (1) not provided, (2) not directed by a medical professional, and (3) provided to patients not eligible for hospice care; and
- Using blank, pre-signed controlled substance prescriptions to distribute drugs without
Recoveries from civil settlements and judgments also decreased in FY 2022, as did the total number of civil settlements and judgments associated with pharmaceutical manufacturers. In FY 2022, $395 million (62 percent) of the $641 million in civil recoveries derived from nonglobal cases. The remaining $246 million derived from global cases.
Appendixes to the report include a list of “beneficial” practices implemented by the MFCUs to prevent and discover these and other Medicaid abuses in various regions. Reviewing the granular statistics and these findings set forth in the Report provide valuable insights for health care providers, their leaders and advisors about these and other enforcement priorities and practices.
We hope this update is helpful. For more information about these or other health or other legal, management or public policy developments, please contact the author Cynthia Marcotte Stamer via e-mail or via telephone at (214) 452 -8297.
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About the Author
Recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: ERISA & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely-known for 35 plus years of health industry and other management work, public policy leadership and advocacy, coaching, teachings, and publications.
A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, Chair of the American Bar Association (“ABA”) International Section Life Sciences and Health Committee, Chair-Elect of the ABA TIPS Section Medicine & Law Committee, Past Chair of the ABA Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Scribe for the ABA JCEB Annual Agency Meeting with HHS-OCR, past chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Group and current co-Chair of its Welfare Benefit Committee, Ms. Stamer is most widely recognized for her decades of pragmatic, leading-edge work, scholarship and thought leadership on health and managed care and employer benefits legal, public policy and operational concerns in the healthcare, employer benefits, and insurance and financial services industries. She speaks and publishes extensively on HIPAA and other related compliance issues.
Ms. Stamer’s work throughout her career has focused heavily on working with health care and managed care, health and other employee benefit plan, insurance and financial services and other public and private organizations and their technology, data, and other service providers and advisors domestically and internationally with legal and operational compliance and risk management, performance and workforce management, regulatory and public policy and other legal and operational concerns.
For more information about Ms. Stamer or her health industry and other experience and involvements, see www.cynthiastamer.com or contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.
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