Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has reported that skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) may be a possible suspect for receiving fraudulent Medicare payments. Auditors for HHS have discovered that many nursing homes are collecting Medicare payments that are much higher than the national average. For example, the average cost for some patients was in excess of $150 per day, whereas the national average is only $3.39 per day. The OIG believes that fraud, waste, and abuse are the likely causes of such payments. These suspicions were highlighted in a report that focused on situations in which Medicare does not cover the patient’s stay in a nursing home but does cover certain procedures during the patient’s stay at the home. The report demonstrated that some nursing homes were paid more than three times the national average for services such as drug treatments and medical equipment.
In light of this recent report, nursing homes can expect increased scrutiny related to the medical necessity of services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. An effective skilled nursing facility (SNF) compliance program, including internal compliance auditing and monitoring, can help SNFs to identify any potential compliance issues prior to a government investigation. If you have compliance questions relating to SNF billing compliance, medical necessity of services provided to SNF beneficiaries or are in need of assistance preparing for or appealing a SNF Medicare audit, please contact a Wachler & Associates attorney at 248-544-0888.