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OIG Releases Report Regarding Clinicians Associated with High Cumulative Part B Payments

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently released a study detailing problems associated with overpayments to clinicians who provide Medicare Part B services. The study specifically focused on what the OIG referred to as “high cumulative payment” clinicians, who are clinicians receiving total annual payments of more than $3 million for Part B services during CY 2009. The OIG recognizes that this subset of providers poses a greater risk for improper payment or fraud in the Medicare system and will seek to implement new programs and policies to detect those problems.

The study found that from 2008 to 2011, both the number of Medicare Part B clinicians generating high cumulative payments, as well as the total amount of those payments, increased almost 78%. Most importantly, the study identified 303 clinicians who supplied more than $3 million in Part B services in 2009. Medicare administrative contractors (MACs) and Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs) further identified 104 specific individuals of the 303 (34%) for improper payments reviews. By the end of 2011, MACs and ZPICs reviewed 80 of the 104 clinicians and identified $34 million in over payments. Repercussions for these clinicians included suspended licenses and mandatory prepayment reviews, and even two indictments. The OIG recommends that CMS establish a cumulative payment threshold above which a clinician’s claims would be selected for review as well as implementing a procedure for timely identification and review of clinicians’ claims that exceed the cumulative payment threshold.

The OIG views the results of this investigation into high cumulative payment clinicians as a more useful method of identifying potentially improper payments. As a result of this study, clinicians who are reimbursed through Medicare Part B should ensure that their billing practices are in compliance with Medicare documentation and reimbursement rules, as well as determine whether their utilization rates differ significantly from their peers.

If you need assistance determining how this study may affect your practice, or if you have any other health care law questions, please contact an experienced health care attorney at Wachler & Associates at 248-544-0888 or at wapc@wachler.com.