Friday, November 05, 2010

OIG Issues Roadmap on Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse for New Physicians

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued a resource and educational guide for new physicians to help them better understand the key Federal fraud and abuse laws.

As a health care attorney who often deals with physicians on fraud and abuse related matters, I applaud the OIG's effort to provide educational information to help raise the level of understanding on these issues and increase the transparency of these federal laws. This guide won't just be useful for "new" physician but for all physicians to gain a better understanding of the very complex legal/regulatory structure of fraud and abuse laws in the United States.

The new OIG document is titled, "Roadmap for New Physicians: Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse." The physician education roadmap document summarized the five main Federal fraud and abuse laws, including the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Stark Law, the Exclusion Statute, and the Civil Monetary Penalties Law. The roadmap document provides tips to physicians on how they should comply with these laws in their relationships with payers (like the Medicare and Medicaid programs), relationships with vendors (like drug, biologic, and medical device companies), and relationships with fellow providers (like hospitals, nursing homes, and physician colleagues).

The roadmap guide was developed as a result of a survey conducted by OIG of medical school deans and designated institutional officials at institutions that sponsor residencies and fellowships to learn what types of instruction medical students, residents, and fellows receive on Medicare and Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse. Nearly all respondents (92% of deans and 90% of designated institutional officials) reported they would like OIG to provide educational materials they can use. The complete survey, "Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Training in Medical Education," was recently issued in October, 2010.

You can view online or download a PDF version of the roadmap guidance materials. I plan to include a copy of this as a part of my hand out materials when I talk to physicians and other health care providers on fraud and abuse issues.

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