As promised back in April in an announcement of its plans to modernize compliance program guidance, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued the first of its new guidance documents for the health care industry on November 6, 2023. The first release is a general compliance program guidance (GCPG) designed to serve as a resource to all segments of the health care industry, regardless of the particular items or services offered.

In its newest release, OIG reiterates its view that the GCPG is by its very nature a voluntary guidebook that can act as a roadmap for a compliance program to follow, but that it is not binding on any individual or entity in the health care industry. This updated GCPG includes the following information for health care compliance programs, which we summarize further below: (1) key Federal authorities for entities engaged in health care business; (2) the seven elements of a compliance program; (3) adaptations for small and large entities; (4) other compliance considerations; and (6) OIG processes and resources.

Additional industry specific compliance guidance documents will be forthcoming, according to OIG, with its first updated guidance setting the stage for those to follow.Continue Reading HHS OIG Issues General Guidance as First Step in Effort to Modernize Compliance Guidance

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released an advisory opinion permitting a technology company to charge health care providers “per booking” fees to participate in its online provider directory and to allow the same providers to bid on advertising that appears as specialized search results or banner ads within its digital “marketplace.” This is the second time that the OIG has opined on this particular arrangement, having approved an earlier, although slightly different, version of the arrangement by the same company in Advisory Opinion 19-04, which was issued in 2019.

In the most recent opinion, the OIG determined that, although the arrangement might violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and the Beneficiary Inducement Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) law, the office would not enforce those statutes against the company because the nature of the revised fees and search functionality presents a sufficiently low risk of fraud and abuse. Important to the OIG’s decision was the requestor’s certification that the fees do not exceed fair market value of the requesting company’s services to providers related to its marketplace nor do they take into account the user’s insurance status or the volume or value of referrals to the providers.

The OIG’s opinion letter protects only the current arrangement described to it by the requestor, and the agency declined to opine on any continuing contracts under an older version of the program.Continue Reading OIG again approves online health directory’s use of appointment and advertising fees

Three years after the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) issued a final rule that defined and clarified the scope of the information blocking provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act (the Information Blocking Rule), the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has now published its own final rule implementing penalties for violations of the Information Blocking Rule by certain regulated actors (the OIG Final Rule). 

The OIG Final Rule (i) implements OIG’s authority to impose civil money penalties (CMP) related to violations of the Information Blocking Rule; (ii) explains OIG’s approach to enforcement of its information blocking CMP authority; and (iii) codifies the CMP amounts at 42 C.F.R. part 1003, conforming with the Civil Monetary Penalties Law as amended by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

The OIG Final Rule is effective August 2, 2023, however, enforcement of the information blocking penalties will begin on September 1, 2023. Importantly, OIG will not impose information blocking CMPs for conduct occurring prior to September 1, 2023.Continue Reading OIG Finalizes Information Blocking Penalties

On February 28, 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) issued a favorable advisory opinion regarding an arrangement through which a pharmaceutical company provides free enzyme replacement therapy (“ERT”) medication to patients who satisfy certain eligibility requirements where the patients’ insurer is delayed in making a coverage determination.

The OIG noted that, although the arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if conducted with the requisite intent, it would not impose administrative sanctions. Further, the OIG opined that the arrangement would not generate prohibited remuneration under the beneficiary inducement prohibition (“Beneficiary Inducement CMP”).Continue Reading OIG allows drug company to provide free medication during coverage determination delay

The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) has just published its “annual” inflation update to civil monetary penalty amounts (CMP) in its regulations – even though those penalties were just increased for inflation in November 2019.  Under the latest update, CMPs are increased by a 1.01764 “multiplier” (that is, a 1.764% increase), applicable to

The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued its annual solicitation of recommendations for new or revised Anti-kickback Statute (AKS) safe harbors and new Special Fraud Alerts.  In reviewing proposed safe harbor changes, the OIG will consider the extent to which the proposals would increase or decrease:

  • Access to health care services
  • Quality of

As previously reported, the Department of Health and Human Services has published highly anticipated proposed changes to align the regulations under the Physician Self-Referral Law, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, and the Civil Monetary Penalties Law with value-based health care arrangements.  Reed Smith is providing a series of client alerts and teleseminars that analyze key

Seeking to “eliminate any confusion,” the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has formally withdrawn proposed civil money penalty (CMP) and anti-kickback (AKS) safe harbor regulations that it no longer intends to finalize.  Specifically, the OIG is withdrawing:

  • A 1994 proposed rule that would have codified the

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reviewing a long-awaited Trump Administration proposed rule to amend the safe harbors to the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and exceptions to the beneficiary inducement provisions of the Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) statute to better support coordinated care.  The proposed rule presumably builds on the related request

After multiple implementation delays, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) now seeks to move up the effective date of its January 5, 2017 rule on 340B drug pricing program ceiling price calculation and civil monetary penalties (CMPs).  By way of background, HRSA most recently delayed implementation of the 2017 rule because the Trump Administration

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has just announced annual inflation-related increases to civil monetary penalties (CMPs) in its regulations, including those promulgated by the Office of Inspector General, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Food and Drug Administration.  Specifically, pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health Human Services (HHS) has issued a request for information (RFI) on ways to amend or add new safe harbors to the Anti-Kickback Statute and exceptions to the beneficiary inducement provisions of the Civil Monetary Penalty statute, in order to foster arrangements that promote care

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved by voice vote the following bipartisan bills addressing the Medicare Part B program:

  • HR 3245, which would significantly increase various Medicare civil and criminal penalties under sections 1128A and 1128B of the Social Security Act. Sponsors of the bill note these penalties have not been updated in 20 years. Maximum penalties would at least double under the bill. For instance, CMPs that are now $10,000 would be increased to $20,000, while criminal fines that are now a maximum of $25,000 would increase to $100,000. Maximum sentences also would be doubled, from five years to 10 years.
  • HR 1148, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act, to provide for Medicare reimbursement of neurological consults via telemedicine for beneficiaries presenting at hospitals or mobile stroke units.
  • HR 2465, the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act, to make permanent current coverage of speech generating devices under the “routinely purchased” durable medical equipment payment category.
  • HR 2557, the Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis Elimination Act, to provide coverage of DNA Specimen Provenance Assay testing for prostate cancer.
  • HR 3120, to amend the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to remove the mandate that meaningful use standards become more stringent over time.
  • HR 3263, to extend for two years the Medicare Independence at Home Medical Practice Demonstration Program.
  • HR 3271, to revise Medicare competitive bidding rules pertaining to diabetes test strips, including stronger enforcement of requirement that bidders cover at least 50 percent of the types of diabetes test strips on the market.

Continue Reading Committees Approve Bills to Boost Medicare Penalties, Revise Part B Policies, Extend CHIP Funding

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health has approved the following seven bipartisan bills addressing the Medicare Part B program:

  • HR 3245, which would significantly increase various Medicare civil and criminal penalties under sections 1128A and 1128B of the Social Security Act, which sponsors note have not been updated in 20 years. Maximum penalties would at least double under the bill. For instance, CMPs that are now $10,000 would be increased to $20,000, while criminal fines that are now a maximum of $25,000 would increase to $100,000. Maximum sentences also would be doubled, from five years to 10 years.
  • HR 1148, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act, to provide for Medicare reimbursement of neurological consults via telemedicine for beneficiaries presenting at hospitals or mobile stroke units.
  • HR 2465, the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act, to make permanent the current Medicare coverage of speech generating devices under the “routinely purchased” durable medical equipment payment category.
  • HR 2557, the Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis Elimination Act, to provide coverage of DNA Specimen Provenance Assay (DPSA) testing for prostate cancer.
  • HR 3120, to amend the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to remove the mandate that meaningful use standards become more stringent over time.
  • HR 3263, to extend the Medicare Independence at Home Medical Practice Demonstration Program.
  • HR 3271, to revise Medicare competitive bidding rules pertaining to diabetes test strips (DTS), including stronger enforcement of requirement that bidders cover at least 50 percent of the types of diabetes test strips on the market.

Continue Reading House Panels Advance Medicare Policy Bills, including Hike in Civil/Criminal Penalties

CMS has just corrected an error in a 2016 rulemaking that inadvertently called for a 10-fold increase in certain “Sunshine Act” civil monetary penalties (CMPs).

Under section 1128G of the Social Security Act, applicable manufacturers must report annually to CMS any payments or other transfers of value to covered recipients. In addition, the statute requires

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is once again applying an inflation increase to maximum civil monetary penalty (CMP) amounts for HHS agencies and programs – less than five months after the last inflation hike and notwithstanding the Trump Administration’s recently-announced regulatory freeze.  Specifically, in a final rule to be published on

The HHS Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) latest Semiannual Report to Congress highlights top audits, investigations, and enforcement activities for the period of April 1 to September 30, 2016 and summarizes overall accomplishments for fiscal year (FY) 2016. Notably, the OIG reports:

  • Expected FY 2016 recoveries will exceed $5.66 billion, including nearly $1.2 billion in

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published a final rule to codify the OIG’s expanded authority under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to impose civil monetary penalties (CMPs) on providers and suppliers under a variety of additional scenarios. For example, for failure to timely report and return an identified overpayment, the final rule permits the OIG to impose a penalty of up to $10,000 for each item or service (rather than $10,000 per day as proposed).  Furthermore, the rule establishes up to $10,000 per day penalties—at the National Drug Code (NDC) product Identifier level—for drug manufacturers who fail to timely report and certify drug-pricing data.

Likewise, the final rule codifies the OIG’s expanded authority under the ACA to permit CMPs for conduct including:
Continue Reading OIG Finalizes Expanded CMP Authorities under the ACA

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published a final rule amending the safe harbors to the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and the Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) rules to protect certain payment practices and business arrangements from criminal prosecution or civil sanctions under the AKS (Final Rule).  The Final Rule finalizes all of the anti-kickback statute safe harbors proposed in an October 3, 2014 proposed rule, with certain modifications, and all of the beneficiary inducement CMP exceptions proposed in the Proposed Rule.

With regard to the AKS, the Final Rule finalizes:

  • A technical correction to the existing safe harbor for referral services;
  • Protection for certain cost-sharing waivers, including: pharmacy waivers of cost-sharing for financially needy Medicare Part D beneficiaries, and waivers of cost-sharing for emergency ambulance services furnished by state- or municipality-owned ambulance services;
  • Protection for certain remuneration between Medicare Advantage organizations and federally qualified health centers;
  • Protection for discounts by manufacturers on drugs furnished to beneficiaries under the Medicare Coverage Gap Discount Program; and
  • Protection for free or discounted local transportation services that meet specified criteria.

In the Final Rule, the OIG also amends the definition of “remuneration” in the CMP regulations at 42 CFR 1003 by adding certain statutory exceptions for:
Continue Reading OIG Issues CMP, Anti-kickback Safe Harbor Final Rules