The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has proposed a new rule that, among other changes, would amend the “identified overpayment” standard in the current regulations for Medicare to align with the False Claims Act’s (“FCA”) “knowingly” standard. The proposed rule plans to remove “the exercise of reasonable diligence” language from the relevant regulations and replace that language with the “knowingly” standard from the FCA.
The regulations at issue — 42 C.F.R. § 401.305(a)(2); 42 C.F.R. § 422.326(c) and 42. C.F.R. § 423.360(c) — are supposed to implement, in part, Section 6402(a) of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7k. This section of the ACA explains that if an overpayment under the various Medicare programs has been identified and has not been reported and returned in a set amount of time, then an enforcement action can be brought under the FCA. This section also states that the terms “knowing” and “knowingly” have the same meaning as under the FCA.
The FCA defines these terms to mean that a person has actual knowledge of information, acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of information, or acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of information; the terms do not require a specific intent to defraud. 31 U.S.C. § 3729(b)(1).