In its ongoing effort to prevent waste, fraud and abuse, CMS announced a new enforcement approach being rolled out as part of its Program Integrity Enhancements to the Provider Enrollment Process Final Rule.
A new “affiliations” authority in the rule allows CMS to identify individuals and organizations that pose an undue risk of fraud, waste or abuse based on their relationships with other previously sanctioned entities. For example, a currently enrolled or newly enrolling organization that has an owner/managing employee who is “affiliated” with another previously revoked organization can be denied enrollment in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP or, if already enrolled, can have its enrollment revoked because of the problematic affiliation.
The rule also includes other authorities that will effectively improve CMS’ fraud-fighting capabilities. Similar to the affiliations component, these authorities provide a basis for administrative action to revoke or deny, as applicable, Medicare enrollment if:
- A provider or supplier circumvents program rules by coming back into the program, or attempting to come back in, under a different name (e.g. the provider attempts to “reinvent” itself);
- A provider or supplier bills for services/items from non-compliant locations;
- A provider or supplier exhibits a pattern or practice of abusive ordering or certifying of Medicare Part A or Part B items, services or drugs; or
- A provider or supplier has an outstanding debt to CMS from an overpayment that was referred to the Treasury Department.
The new rule also gives CMS the ability to prevent applicants from enrolling in the program for up to 3 years if a provider or supplier is found to have submitted false or misleading information in its initial enrollment application. Furthermore, the new rule expands the reenrollment bar that prevents fraudulent or otherwise problematic providers from re-entering the Medicare program. CMS can now block providers and suppliers who are revoked from re-entering the Medicare program for up to 10 years. Previously, revoked providers could only be prevented from re-enrolling for up to 3 years. Additionally, if a provider or supplier is revoked from Medicare for a second time, CMS can now block that provider or supplier from re-entering the program for up to 20 years.
These new authorities and restrictions become effective November 4, 2019.