One Well being Sources and Companies Administration program, “COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Well being Care Suppliers and Amenities for Testing, Remedy, and Vaccine Administration for the Uninsured,” has been an enormous supply of funding for COVID-19 providers in the course of the public well being emergency.
The HRSA uninsured program has paid roughly $18 billion in claims, together with roughly $11.4 billion for testing, $5.85 billion for remedy and $1.6 billion for vaccines.1
Over the previous couple of weeks, the HRSA stopped accepting claims for COVID-19 testing and remedy claims, in addition to for COVID-19 vaccination claims.2
This system was funded by federal laws, together with the Households First Coronavirus Response Act; the Coronavirus Support, Aid and Financial Safety Act; the Coronavirus Response and Aid Supplemental Appropriations Act; and the American Rescue Plan of 2021. This system supplied reimbursement for well being care suppliers who rendered COVID-19 testing, remedy and vaccine providers to uninsured people.
The large amount of cash paid to suppliers by way of the HRSA uninsured program renders this system ripe for presidency auditing and oversight to make sure compliance with federal necessities.Specifically, suppliers had been required to conform to this system’s phrases and circumstances which embody potential post-reimbursement audit assessment.3 Moreover, the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Companies’ Workplace of Inspector Basic work plan contains an audit of the HRSA uninsured program to find out whether or not claims for COVID-19 testing and remedy complied with federal necessities.4
The OIG initially introduced an anticipated difficulty date for the audit of fiscal 12 months 2021 however has since modified the date to fiscal 12 months 2022.
Authorities Enforcement and Potential Legal responsibility for Noncompliance
To obtain reimbursement from this system, suppliers enrolled and attested to this system’s phrases and circumstances, and noncompliance could topic a supplier to administrative, civil or felony legal responsibility.
Along with the phrases and circumstances, program steering has been within the type of info posted on HRSA’s web site, together with continuously requested questions.5 It’s unclear whether or not or to what extent the Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Companies steering applies to this system.
CMS steering is referenced a number of occasions in program materials, and there’s a robust implication that HHS, the mum or dad company for each CMS and HRSA, could require taking part suppliers to adjust to some CMS laws and steering.
Importantly, this system FAQs state that HRSA has a program to establish overpayments and accumulate overpaid funds from future claims cost. The FAQs additionally set forth a course of for suppliers who self-identify overpayments to return the funds.
There was restricted enforcement associated to the HRSA uninsured program to this point, however OIG and the U.S. Division of Justice press releases reveal authorities consideration on COVID-19 fraud usually,6 and press articles counsel consideration on this system particularly and sign the potential for extra enforcement to return.
On this article, we describe the HRSA uninsured program’s necessities and a few dangers that suppliers could face, together with the potential penalties which will consequence from noncompliance with program necessities.
Claims Should Be for Medically Essential Companies
Suppliers had been required to certify that every one objects and providers for which reimbursement is sought are medically obligatory. HHS, the U.S. Division of Labor and the U.S. Division of the Treasury issued steering decoding the FFCRA provision requiring payers to cowl COVID-19 testing providers and clarifying that payers should not required to supply protection for screening assessments or assessments for employment functions.7
Whereas it’s unclear whether or not the departments’ steering would apply to this system, it’s possible, and by submitting claims to HRSA for assessments that aren’t medically obligatory, suppliers could also be topic to authorities scrutiny.
At the least one supplier has entered right into a settlement settlement with OIG after disclosing alleged violations of the Civil Financial Penalties Regulation for allegedly presenting claims to the HRSA uninsured program for providers rendered to sufferers and not using a COVID-19 main analysis.
Sufferers Should Be Uninsured
This system is meant to reimburse for claims for uninsured sufferers solely, and suppliers should certify that to the perfect of its data, sufferers recognized on every declare kind had been uninsured on the time the service was rendered.
With the velocity at which suppliers started providing COVID-19 testing and remedy providers to deal with the numerous want in the course of the public well being emergency, suppliers could not have put in place correct procedures to find out sufferers’ insurance coverage standing. Failure to take measures to find out whether or not sufferers are uninsured could expose suppliers to legal responsibility for failure to adjust to this system phrases and circumstances.
Supplier Could Not Steadiness Invoice Sufferers
Suppliers had been required to certify that they might not have interaction in steadiness billing or cost any sort of value sharing for providers supplied to uninsured people for which reimbursement is sought from the HRSA uninsured program.
Likewise, suppliers that charged a charge to uninsured people for testing previous to signing the phrases and circumstances needed to talk with the uninsured person that they don’t owe any cash for the providers, and return any cost already made to the uninsured particular person.
HRSA steering doesn’t converse to remediation following situations through which suppliers steadiness invoice sufferers after signing the phrases and circumstances. Consequently, suppliers could also be topic to authorities enforcement.
Suppliers Could Not Search Reimbursement for Bills Reimbursed by Different Sources
Suppliers licensed that they might not use program reimbursement for bills or losses which were reimbursed from different sources or that different sources are obligated to reimburse.
Cases of potential noncompliance with this requirement could also be found by way of knowledge evaluation, together with for many who obtained different sources of federal COVID-19 reduction funding together with from the supplier reduction fund or the Paycheck Safety Program.
The HRSA uninsured program has supplied a essential supply of reimbursement for suppliers rendering COVID-19-related providers to uninsured people. Nonetheless, noncompliance with this system’s necessities could expose suppliers to legal responsibility for administrative, civil or felony fines.
Suppliers who participated in and submitted claims to this system ought to assess their operations to make sure they had been in compliance with the phrases and circumstances and program steering. Likewise, suppliers that detect noncompliance with program necessities ought to look into remediation.
This text was initially revealed by Law360 and is reprinted right here by permission.