On March 30, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“OIG”) issued a press release entitled “Message from leadership on minimizing burdens on providers.” In that press release, the OIG stated that it “places a high priority on providing the health care community with the flexibility to provide needed care during [the COVID-19] emergency,” and that it was coordinating with other agencies, such as HHS, CMS, and its law enforcement partners, “to support the health care system’s response to the pandemic and assist health care professionals striving to do the best they can for their patients.”
In order to accomplish its core mission of fighting fraud, waste, and abuse in healthcare, while at the same time minimizing regulatory burdens on healthcare providers during the pendency of this crisis, the OIG:
- Encouraged healthcare organizations that need extensions of OIG deadlines (including compliance with a Corporate Integrity Agreement) to ask their OIG contact and stated that the OIG will work with organizations on a “reasonable solution”; and
- Noted that for any conduct during the COVID-19 emergency that may be subject to OIG administrative enforcement, the OIG “will carefully consider the context and intent of the parties when assessing whether to proceed with any enforcement action.”
While the OIG appears to be thinking of ways it can lessen the regulatory burden on healthcare providers during this difficult time, it stopped short of instituting specific policies such as blanket extensions of OIG-imposed deadlines or expressly easing regulations related to its administrative authority like other agencies have done (see, for example, easing of Stark Law regulations for COVID-19-related services).
Since the founding of its legacy firm more than 30 years ago, the attorneys at Chilivis Grubman have represented healthcare providers of all types and sizes in connection with fraud and abuse matters including OIG administrative matters. If you or your organization needs assistance in connection with such a matter, please contact us today.