The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) included several new items in its work plan update in January 2021. The OIG work plan outlines the projects that OIG plans to implement over the foreseeable future. Such projects typically include OIG audits and evaluations. Below are the highlights from the work plan update that providers and suppliers should take notice of.
First, OIG will perform a nationwide audit to determine whether hospitals that received Provider Relief Fund (PRF) payments and attested to the associated terms and conditions complied with the balance billing requirement for COVID – 19 inpatients. Under the PRF terms and conditions, hospitals are eligible for PRF distribution payments if they attest to specific requirements, including a requirement that providers, such as hospitals, must not pursue the collection of out-of-pocket payments from presumptive or actual COVID – 19 patients in excess of what the patients otherwise would have been required to pay if the care had been provided by in-network providers. OIG plans to assess how bills were calculated for out-of-network patients admitted for COVID-19 treatment, review supporting documentation for compliance, and assess procedural controls and monitoring to ensure compliance with the balance billing requirement.
Second, OIG will perform a nationwide review of Medicare beneficiary hospice eligibility. OIG indicated that a number of recent compliance audits have identified findings related to beneficiary eligibility. In its review, OIG plans to focus on those hospice beneficiaries that haven’t had an inpatient hospital stay or an emergency room visit in certain periods prior to their start of hospice care.