OIG Special Fraud Alert Targets DME Telemarketing

January 21, 2010

By Cynthia Marcotte  Stamer 

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) on January 14, 2010 issued a Special Fraud Alert discussing potential violations of the anti-kickback statute for Federal health care programs durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers making unsolicited telephone calls to Medicare beneficiaries prematurely based only on physicians’ preliminary written or verbal orders or otherwise inappropriately.  DME companies and their telemarketing providers should review their current practices in light of the Special Fraud Alert and tighten practices as necessary to comply with its guidance.

The January 14, 2010 Special Fraud Alert focuses on the continuing efforts by some DME companies to circumvent the telemarketing prohibits on Section 1834(a)(17) by using independent marketing firms to make unsolicited telephone calls to Medicare beneficiaries to telemarket DME based on preliminary written or oral DME orders of physicians.  DME companies and their telemarketing providers should review their current practices in light of the Special Fraud Alert and tighten practices as necessary to comply with its guidance.  Read more here

Over the past year, HHS, the Department of Justice and other federal officials have significantly turned up the heat on health care fraud investigation and enforcement,  During December, 2010 alone, the Department of Justice reported more than 15 criminal fraud enforcement actions. See Federal HEAT & Other Federal Health Care Fraud Efforts Score More Than 15 Successes As OIG Claims $20.97 Billion Saved From Enforcement Activities In December.  These and other reports document the rising prosecution and enforcement risks that health care providers face for failing under federal health care fraud laws.  In light of the growing enforcement and emphasis of federal prosecutors and regulations on the detection and prosecution of organizations and individuals participating in billing or other activities that violate federal health care fraud laws, health care organizations, their officers, directors, employees, consultants and other business partners should tighten practices and step up oversight to minimize the likelihood that they or their organizations will engage in activities that federal regulators view as federal health care fraud.  Health care providers need to strengthen existing practices to withstand federal scrutiny, as well as to identify appropriate counsel, established plans and procedures and implement other arrangements for responding in the event the Department of Justice, HHS or other federal regulators audit or take other action regarding their practices or billings.

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.  If you found these updates of interest, you also be interested in other updates on HEAT activities such as the following:

If you need assistance with these or other health care fraud, compliance, reimbursement, risk management, workforce and other health care concerns, please contact the author of this update, Curran Tomko Tarski LLP Health Practice Group Chair, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (214) 270‑2402, cstamer@cttlegal.com. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising clients and writes and speaks extensively on these and other health industry and other reimbursement, operations, internal controls and risk management matters.  You can review other recent health care and related resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here

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©2009 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  All rights reserved.

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