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OIG Releases Its Updated List of Excluded Individuals and Entities

On April 12, 2012, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published an updated list of excluded providers, persons and entities from Medicare, Medicaid and other Federal health care programs, known as the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE).

HHS is authorized by Section 1128 of the Social Security Act to exclude persons from participating in Federal health care programs. HHS has delegated this authority to the OIG. This delegation grants the OIG the authority to exclude individuals and entities from participating in Medicare, Medicaid and other Federal health care programs, as well as the authority to impose civil money penalties (CMP) for program-related misconduct. In addition, the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997 authorizes the OIG to impose additional CMP against any health care entity or provider that employs or enters into contracts with an excluded individual or entity if such an agreement involves providing any item or service to Federal program beneficiaries.

If an individual or entity is excluded from Federal health care programs, no federal payment may be made for any items or services. These items or services not only include those furnished by an excluded individual or entity, but also include any item or service that was directed or prescribed by an excluded physician when the furnishing entity knew or should have known of the exclusion and whether or not the payment is made to the non-excluded provider.

Section 1128 of the Social Security Act establishes which individuals and entities are excluded from Federal health care programs. The Act includes both mandatory and permissive exclusions. As the phrase implies, a mandatory exclusion is that in which the OIG must exclude from Federal health care programs (e.g. felony conviction relating to health care fraud). On the other hand, a permissive exclusion enables the OIG to use its discretion in determining whether exclusion is the correct remedial action to enforce (e.g. individuals controlling a sanctioned entity).

An excluded party may be subject to CMP if it violates its exclusion. A violation will be found if the excluded party submits, or causes to be submitted, a claim for Federal reimbursement for providing an item or service to a Federal program beneficiary. Furthermore, since program reinstatement is not automatic, a violation of an exclusion may severely diminish any possibility of being reinstated into Federal health care programs in the future. In addition, further CMP may be sought for any health care provider who employs or contracts with an excluded individual or entity when such agreement involves rendering any item or service that is to be reimbursed, directly or indirectly, by a Federal health care program.

The OIG advises health care providers to check the OIG List of Excluded Individuals/Entities prior to engaging in any agreement with another provider. The OIG website is updated regularly and provides up-to-date lists of all exclusions and reinstatements to the Federal health care programs. The lists for March of 2012 have recently been added to the database.

If you have any questions relating to Federal health care program exclusions/reinstatements, or have any other health law questions, please contact an experienced health law attorney at Wachler & Associates at 248-544-0888.