Bundled Medicare Services for Chiropractors

The use of, and billing of hot and cold packs in the chiropractic setting with Medicare patients is quite often misunderstood. More often than not it is overbilled, because it is difficult to appropriately establish appropriate rationale to prove medical necessity for this to be separately billed in the office. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has published this guidance for the proper use of the service:

“It is the position of the American Chiropractic Association that the work of hot/cold packs as described by CPT code 97010 is not included in the CMT codes 98940-43 in instances when moist heat or cryotherapy is medically necessary to achieve a specific physiological effect that is thought to be beneficial to the patient. Indications for the application of moist heat include, but are not limited to, relaxation of muscle spasticity, induction of local analgesia and general sedation, promotion of vasodilation and increase in lymph flow to the area. Indications for the application of cryotherapy include, but are not limited to, relaxation of muscle spasticity, induction of local analgesia and general sedation, promotion of vasodilation and increase of lymph flow to the area.”Continue reading

6 Essential Questions For Audit Preparedness

medical practice audit

medical practice auditBy: Zach Simpson

As you train your staff on the changes that were recently made regarding evaluation and management coding it is very important to ensure that your staff understands the auditor’s perspective as well. There are four distinct portions of an auditor’s tool when evaluating the documentation guidelines for office/outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services (99202-99215). The four distinct portions are diagnoses, data, risk, and calculation of medical decision making (MDM).  In order to ensure that a provider’s progress note is complete in the auditor’s eyes the provider should ask themselves the following six questions to create the best chances of successfully meeting the auditors expectations:

  1. Does my progress note contain a medically appropriate history and examination?
  2. Were my diagnoses addressed appropriately?
  3. Did I document all orders and data reviewed?
  4. Were other professionals included in my documentation that I worked with?
  5. Was an independent historian used?
  6. Does the documentation support the level of risk I chose?

For the remainder of the article, I am going to dive deeper into each question above so that you, as providers are able to recognize insufficient areas in a provider’s E/M documentation when you perform a self audit to better your practice.Continue reading

What to Do When The Government Comes Knocking

business meeting between healthcare professionals and goverment

business meeting between healthcare professionals and govermentBy: Karen Davila

You do everything right.  You’re careful to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.  Compliance is hard-wired because you’re in an industry that’s highly regulated and you’ve built into your operations a series of compliance checks and balances.  However, even with strong controls in place, compliance efforts sometimes fall short– and whether you’re a physician group, a pharmacy, a durable medical equipment company, a home health agency, or any other health care provider, someday you might find yourself face-to-face with law enforcement officials or regulatory enforcement authorities.  What do you do?  How do you assure the most successful outcome with minimal business disruption?

Compliance is the foundation to mitigating the risks inherent in any health care operation.  Compliance can reduce the likelihood that regulators or law enforcement suddenly appear on your doorstep.  But preparation for emergencies and uncertainties is the key to reducing the risk that non-compliance leads to lengthy business interruption.  Although you may be saying “if”, you really should be thinking and acting more like “when”.  It costs everything to be ill-prepared and it costs very little to be well-prepared.  The following preparation can prevent much of the uncertainty that arises in these cases.

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

First and foremost, make sure you have well-developed policies and procedures for what to do in such instances.  You should review these policies and procedures with your employees regularly, focusing on the importance of compliance.  Out of fear and uncertainty, employees can do things that create unnecessary challenges.  Educating them as to what their rights and responsibilities are will mitigate those risks.  Make sure your policies and procedures include the designation of who is in charge (“person in charge”) when the government does show up.Continue reading

Laboratory Compliance Services With Expert Lab Lawyers

Contact the Florida Healthcare Law Firm today for your legal laboratory compliance questions. Initial consultations are free and we offer general counsel services on per project or a monthly basis.

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Weave Compliance Into Your Practice For 2021

fhlf regulatory compliance

fhlf regulatory complianceBy: Jeff Cohen

A recent Department of Justice $500,000 settlement with a cardiology practice underscores the need for ensuring tighter compliance by medical practices.  There, the practice billed Medicare for cardiology procedures for which interpretive reports were also required.  Medicare paid for the procedures, but upon audit, CMS could not find the requisite interpretive reports.  The False Claims Act case settled for $500,000, but it’s likely that (1) the reimbursement by Medicare was far less, and (b) the legal fees behind the settlement weren’t too far behind the settlement amount!  Had the practice self-audited each year, would they have found the discrepancy?

Medical practices have felt the weight of price compression and regulatory load more than probably any segment in the healthcare sector.  They are doing far more for far less.  And regulations expand faster than viruses!  Hence, many have a strategy of regulatory compliance that can best be characterized as a combination of facial compliance (“We bought the manual and put it on the shelf”) and hope (“They’re not really serious about this, are they?”).  Unless you’re part of a practice of more than 20 doctors, it’s likely that you can do more to ensure regulatory compliance.

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Home Health Acquisitions On the Run

Home health acquisitions private equity transaction

Home health acquisitions private equity transactionBy: Jeff Cohen

Home health agencies everywhere have become the favorite targeted acquisitions of “the financial world.”  Apparently, there is one seminar that every buyer attended convincing buyers or all kinds (buyers with money, buyers without money, buyers in the private equity space) that:

  1. HHAs are ripe for aggregation because the industry is disaggregated; and
  2. HHA owners lack business sophistication necessary to bring their businesses to the “next level.”

Unfortunately, some of the buyers lack any true industry experience and are looking at acquisition targets solely from a financial perspective.  They’re looking principally at business financials and nothing else.  And, worse yet, they’re not focused on the centrality of operational expertise.  All of which can come crushing down on the head of seller financed acquisitions.  In other words, if the buyer is paying the purchase price over time, the seller is effectively financing the transaction because the purchase proceeds are (in theory) coming from seller operational profits. This may make the transaction possible, but operations will ensure company profitability and growth, which is gonna drive seller interest.

So what?  A lot!  As current HHA owners know, the secret sauce is in not financial analytics.  It’s in the operations!  And the financial due diligence is just a part of the equation. What about regulatory due diligence? What about knowing where the bodies are buried (legally speaking)?  What are the payer relationships?  What are the marketing relationships?  What is really driving the business?  Who is the key reason why the HHA is successful?  It is typically one or two people.  And missing that or retiring them is a recipe for disaster for buyers and seller financed sellers.  As is missing illegal payments made to induce patient referrals, which can shut down even a completed transaction in a heartbeat.  None of this is part of the usual [financial] due diligence!

Lawyers might say “Yeah, but there will be plenty or reps and warranties to cover the transaction. And the indemnification sections will be tight.” So what?  The buyer doesn’t want a pig in a poke.  They want a reliable and growing income stream.  Details matter.  Especially the details both buyers and sellers are missing!

Further, if a buyer thinks they can buy an HHA on the cheap (1) without proper due diligence, (2) with lawyers waiting to get paid if the transaction closes and funds, and (3) with heavy seller financing, think again.  If you’re dealing with a buyer with pockets (or you have pockets) and will spend the right money on proper due diligence, the right (and experienced) marketing and management, have at it!  The HHA industry is ripe for aggregation.  But doing it in “the new way” isn’t new at all.  It’s just defective and a recipe for lots of heartache…and litigation.

Real buyers love due diligence. They love to measure twice (three times is even better!) and cut once.  They love either understanding the business they’re buying or buying the operational talent.  And they understand and embrace the notion of putting hard money to work.  They don’t try to buy something for nothing or find lawyers who don’t have enough work to do who are willing to work for free.  Real buyers are not trying to get something for nothing.  And they don’t allow a financial flow focus to blind them to the daily “wax on; wax off” aspects of the business.  Doing so would disappoint both sellers and buyer investors.

It’s great to see so much activity in the HHA space.  But the ones that win and stay will only be the ones that do it the old fashioned away—They’ll Earn It!

What’s All This Talk About 340B Discount Drug Programs?

340B Discount Drug Program

340B Discount Drug ProgramBy: Jackie Bain

There has been so much in the news lately about 340B Discount Drug Programs and the fraud that accompanies them.

The 340B Discount Drug Program allows manufacturers participating in Medicaid to agree to provide outpatient drugs to certain designated clinics and hospitals at significantly reduced prices. The typical discount ranges from 30% to 50% off the drug’s list price. In turn those clinics/hospitals are able to reach more high-risk, high-need patients and provide more comprehensive services. Each designated clinic/hospital involved in the program is called a “covered entity.”

Covered entities may provide drugs purchased through the 340B Discount Drug Program to all eligible patients of that covered entity, regardless of a patient’s payer status. In order to be a “patient” of a specific covered entity, an individual (1) must have an established relationship with the covered entity such that the covered entity maintains records of the individual’s care; and (2) must receive care from a professional employed by or contracted with the covered entity such that responsibility for the care remains with the covered entity. Under the guidelines, an individual is not considered a patient of the covered entity if the individual only is dispensed a drug for the patient to take at home.Continue reading

Patient Brokering & Money Laundering: Bieda Arrests Raise Serious Issues

patient brokering arrest treatment center toxicology lab ownership

patient brokering arrest treatment center toxicology lab ownershipThree family members involved in owning an addiction treatment center and/or a toxicology lab were charged in July with patient brokering and money laundering in an alleged scheme involving roughly $2 Million.  The allegations arise out of a complex corporate enterprise involving at least four companies and some common ownership between the treatment center and lab.  While it’s premature to assume that the defendants did anything illegal, there are some interesting things in this case:

Complexity Invites Suspicion.  Every business owner in the addiction treatment and toxicology lab space knows three things:  (1) it’s extremely regulated, (2) law enforcement has an especially sharpened focus on these industries, and (3) insurance companies are very suspect of any situation involving either industry, especially when there is any common ownership.  So why then would one construct an enterprise that even “looks” complex or tricky?  It intensifies suspicion in an already highly scrutinized business space.  This is clearly one of the points of focus in this case.  There’s an old saying woven into the mind of every experienced healthcare lawyer:  if something can’t be done directly, it can’t be done indirectly.  Time will tell if anything in this case was wrong or if there are any good reasons for the corporate structure, but the complexity of the corporate structure certainly invites suspicion. Continue reading

Physician Owned Hospitals Looming Large in Florida

physician owned hospitals

physician owned hospitalsBy: Jeff Cohen

Florida may become the “next Texas” on the issue of physician owned specialty hospitals.  “Next Texas,” since there are a number of examples where the concept launched (and also flopped).  Done right, such facilities could be a better fit for many patients, depending of course on patient co morbidity issues.  In theory, they would be the perfect bridge between surgery centers and regular acute care hospitals.  But the ability of such specialty focused care suggests a better staffing model and more targeted and efficient overhead, instead of the broad-based overhead of an acute care hospital at is spread out aver all cases, including those where overhead allocation is viewed as “just an expense.” Continue reading

Buying a Dental Practice

buying a dental practice

buying a dental practiceBy: Chase Howard

Those in the practice of dentistry today have many options when it comes to building a practice. Should you work for an employer? Build your own? What about buy a practice? More and more, we see young dentists wishing to avoid private equity and buying out a retiring dentist’s practice. The amount of regulation imposed upon those entering into the dental practice arena can be staggering. Further, buying a dental practice requires many considerations that are unique to other areas of business. Understanding the purchase process will help protect your investment and could keep you from experiencing any unnecessary liability.

First, organize a team of specialized dental experts, such as a dental CPA, Professional Practice Lender, dental law attorney, and a practice consultant. Having a team of professionals guide you through all aspects of the deal will keep you on track, avoid potential issues, accomplish specific task items, and properly comply with any legal considerations.Continue reading