Office of the Inspector General ("OIG")

The Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) is responsible for detecting and preventing fraud, waste, and abuse in federal health care programs. The OIG has authority to enforce the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) and the Beneficiary Inducements Civil Monetary Penalty law (“CMPL”). One of the ways that the OIG utilizes its enforcement authority is through the issuance of advisory opinions. Continue Reading OIG 2022 Advisory Opinions: Year in Review

On Thursday, February 23, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (“OIG”) issued its first Advisory Opinion (“AO”) of the new year – OIG AO No. 23-01 – permitting a drug manufacturer to provide financial assistance for transportation, lodging, meals, and other out-of-pocket expenses to eligible patients receiving the manufacturer’s drug (the “Arrangement”). Overall, OIG concluded that: (1) the risk of fraud and abuse presented by the manufacturer’s Arrangement was sufficiently low under the Federal anti-kickback statute; and (2) the remuneration offered under the Arrangement was not likely to influence a beneficiary to order the manufacturer’s drug (the “Drug”) from a particular provider and therefore did not constitute grounds for the imposition of sanctions under the Beneficiary Inducements CMP. Ultimately, the crux of this decision came down to the unique manufacturing and distribution of the Drug, which (i) is the only available potentially curative treatment for an ultra-rare disorder; (ii) pursuant to its FDA approval, can only be manufactured at a single facility, located on the campus of a treatment center (the “Treatment Center”); (iii) can only be administered within 3 hours after being manufactured; and thus, can only be administered at the single Treatment Center site.Continue Reading OIG Advisory Opinion Alert: Medical Flights for Patient Access

On December 5, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), released their Semiannual Report to Congress for the period beginning on April 1, 2022, and ending on September 30, 2022 (the “Semiannual Report”).[1]Continue Reading OIG Shines a Spotlight on Nursing Homes, Opioid Misuse, and Health Equity in the FY2022 Semiannual Report

On October 5, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) posted Advisory Opinion No. 22-19 (the “Opinion”), which limits the ability of pharmaceutical manufacturers to offer cost-sharing subsidies to Medicare Part D (“Part D”) beneficiaries via 501(c)(3) charities without running afoul of the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute (the “AKS”).Continue Reading OIG Limits Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Ability to Offer Drug Cost-Sharing Subsidies

The Biden Administration has expressed a deep concern about nursing home owners and related parties excessively profiting off of the residents they serve to the detriment of quality care. To address this concern, President Biden has asked Congress to implement laws that will empower federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase accountability for facility ownership and expand enforcement authority at the ownership level. In addition, the federal agencies that regulate and oversee nursing homes (and some states[1]) have or plan to take action to ensure more transparency, compliance and enforcement regarding nursing facility ownership. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced last week that it will undertake an audit of skilled nursing facility Medicare payments to related parties. Facility owners and operators should heed these developments, which as discussed below, focus on several fronts, and ensure that their relationships and operations are in accord with existing federal and state related party laws and regulations.Continue Reading Nursing Homes Beware: the Government has Increased Its Scrutiny of Related Parties

On August 19, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) posted a favorable advisory opinion, AO 22-16, with respect to the provision of gift cards to Medicare Advantage (“MA”) plan enrollees who complete certain steps in an online patient education program. This opinion underscores potential flexibility for with Medicare Advantage Organizations (“MAOs”) and their vendor partners to offer incentives to patients to engage in learning and health care engagement activities that may improve health outcomes without inappropriately steering patients toward particular providers or MA plans.Continue Reading OIG Blesses Gift Cards for Patient Engagement with Education Tool

The Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) recently issued Advisory Opinion 22-08 (the “Advisory Opinion”), concluding that the provision of limited use smartphones by a federally qualified health center (“FQHC”) to existing, low-income patients (the “Arrangement”) lacked the intent required to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”)[1] and was not likely to generate remuneration prohibited under the federal Civil Monetary Penalties Law prohibiting inducements to health care program beneficiaries (“Beneficiary Inducement CMP”)[2].Continue Reading OIG Issues Favorable Advisory Opinion For Federally Qualified Health Center’s Smartphone Loan Program

On July 20, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a Special Fraud Alert warning physicians and other practitioners to exercise caution when entering into telemedicine arrangements that have certain suspect characteristics.Continue Reading OIG Warns Physicians About Entering into Arrangements with Telemedicine Companies

On April 25, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) issued Advisory Opinion No. 22-07 which evaluated the risk of fraud and abuse under the federal anti-kickback statute (“AKS”) posed by an arrangement involving physician-ownership of a medical device company. The opinion identified six characteristics of the arrangement which greatly reduced the risk of fraud and abuse.Continue Reading OIG Issues Favorable Advisory Opinion for Physician-Owned Medical Device Company

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector (“OIG”) released a report that studied prior authorization denials and payment denials by Medicare Advantage Organizations (“MAOs”) (the “Report”). While the Report found that the “vast majority” of prior authorizations and payment requests were approved, the Report focused on the finding that MAOs “sometimes” denied prior authorization and payment requests that met Medicare coverage rules claiming that the denials delayed or denied beneficiaries’ access to medically necessary services.
Continue Reading HHS OIG Report On Prior Authorizations Under Medicare Advantage