Senate Finance Committee Seeks Feedback on Fighting Fraud & Abuse as They Look at ZPICs


Reposted from email blast received May 2, 2012.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2012
CONTACT:  Julia Lawless/Antonia Ferrier (Hatch)              (202) 224-4515
                            Communications Office (Baucus)                          (202) 224-4515 

HATCH, BAUCUS LEAD FINANCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS IN BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO COMBAT WASTE, FRAUD, & ABUSE IN
MEDICARE & MEDICAID PROGRAMS
In an open letter to members of the health care community Senators write, “Drawing on the collective wisdom and accumulated insights of thousands of professionals and individual experiences could offer a fresh perspective and potentially identify solutions that may have been overlooked or underutilized.”


WASHINGTON – Today, six members of the Senate Finance Committee, led by Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), announced a bipartisan effort to begin soliciting ideas from interested stakeholders in the health care community regarding effective solutions to improve federal efforts to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Joining Hatch and Baucus in the effort are:  Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Tom Carper (D-Del.).

In an open letter to members of the health care community, the Senators wrote, “We believe federal efforts would be strengthened by input from members across the health care community – providers, payers, health plans, contractors, non-profit entities, consumers, data analytics entities, governmental partners, and patients. Drawing on the collective wisdom and accumulated insights of thousands of professionals and individual experiences could offer a fresh perspective and potentially identify solutions that may have been overlooked or underutilized.”

This week, the lawmakers invited interested stakeholders to submit white papers offering recommendations and innovative solutions to improve program integrity efforts, strengthen payment reforms, and enhance fraud and abuse enforcement efforts. Submissions are due by June 29, 2012. A summary document highlighting key proposals will be compiled and released later this year.

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

To view a signed copy of the letter click HERE.

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 2, 2012

To Members of the Health Care Community:

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), few programs are as much at risk for fraud, waste and abuse as the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  Estimates of the amount of fraud and misspending in these programs vary widely, from $20 billion to as much as $100 billion. Just this week, testimony before the Senate Finance Committee underscored the seriousness of this problem, as witnesses testified that while much has been accomplished in the fight against fraud and abuse, much more needs to be done.  As Senators and members of the Finance Committee, we have a duty to ensure that taxpayer funds are being spent wisely.

Combating fraud in Medicare and Medicaid has long been a challenge for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General (HHS OIG) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).  To date, numerous efforts have been made to reduce fraud, yielding a mixed record of successes and failures.  We believe federal efforts would be strengthened by input from members across the health care community – providers, payers, health plans, contractors, non-profit entities, consumers, data analytics entities, governmental partners, and patients. Drawing on the collective wisdom and accumulated insights of thousands of professionals and individual experiences could offer a fresh perspective and potentially identify solutions that may have been overlooked or underutilized.

Today we are announcing an effort to solicit ideas from all interested stakeholders in the health care community, regarding solutions and suggestions for how to better prevent and combat the multi-billion dollar problem of waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  We invite you to submit white papers offering your best ideas, built on years of experience and insight.  We want to know what areas you see for improvement in current program integrity efforts, as well as additional solutions that we should consider. Working together, we hope to identify innovative solutions that will provide taxpayers with a better return on the investments being made to combat the overpayments in these federal health care programs.

Below are the general categories in which we seek input, though some recommendations may include multiple categories:

&#61623      Program Integrity Reforms to Protect Beneficiaries and Prevent Fraud and Abuse

&#61623      Payment Integrity Reforms to Ensure Accuracy, Efficiency and Value

&#61623      Fraud and Abuse Enforcement Reforms to Ensure Tougher Penalties Against Those Who Commit Fraud

 

Entities interested in submitting white papers should email a PDF or Microsoft Word document to ProgramIntegrityWhitePapers@finance.senate.gov by June 29, 2012.  Submissions should include summary information about the entity or individual submitting a white paper, as well as phone and email contact information. White papers should be as succinct and concrete as possible.  When possible, please include cost-benefit or potential savings information.  Our staff will review submissions and compile a summary document highlighting key proposals later this year.

We appreciate your submission of thoughtful and constructive solutions, as we work to conduct targeted oversight to improve federal efforts to reduce fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid. Together, we believe we can improve program integrity and be better stewards of taxpayer dollars.

Sincerely,

BAUCUS
HATCH
COBURN
WYDEN
GRASSLEY
CARPER

###

HIPAA Privacy Settlement – $1 Million


With all the new enforcement efforts for privacy violations, better read this and take note.  If you are not sure you are HIPAA compliant MAS can provide security as well as chart and process assessment to help you.  This article is so important, I couldn’t find the short link so recopied exact with all Ms. Stamers contact information as well.

Rite Aid Agrees to Pay $1 Million to Settle HIPAA Privacy Case As Office of Civil Rights Proposes Tighter HIPAA Privacy & Security Regulations

August 4, 2010 <!–Cynthia Marcotte Stamer–>

Stay Tuned To Solutions Law Press For More Details

One of the nation’s largest drug store chains, Rite Aid Corporation and its 40 affiliated entities (Rite Aid) will pay $1 million to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights announcement of the HIPAA resolution agreement with Rite Aid and the concurrent negotiation of a separate consent order of potential FTC Act violations between Rite Aid and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) follows HHS’ announcement of proposed changes to its HIPAA Privacy Rules and associated penalties in response to changes enacted under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH Act).  The Rite Aid settlement and the proposed Privacy Rule changes illustrate the growing penalty risks that health care providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and their business associates (Covered Entities) face for violating the Privacy Rules.

Rite Aid Resolution Agreement

The Rite Aid resolution agreements settle charges that Rite Aid failed to appropriately safeguard the privacy of its customers when disposing of identifying information on pill bottle labels and other health information. The settlements apply to all of Rite Aid’s nearly 4,800 retail pharmacies and follow an extensive joint investigation by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the FTC.

OCR opened its investigation of Rite Aid after television media videotaped incidents in which pharmacies were shown to have disposed of prescriptions and labeled pill bottles containing individuals’ identifiable information in industrial trash containers that were accessible to the public in a variety of Rite Aid locations in cities across the United States.  OCR and FTC previously settled a similar case involving the national drug store chain CVS in February 2009.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires covered entities to safeguard the privacy of patient information and other “protected health information” including during its disposal.  In addition to the detailed requirements for protection and safeguarding of protected health information and electronic protected health information under the Privacy Rules, breach notification rules added to HIPAA under the HITECH Act also generally require that Covered Entities investigate and provide timely notification of breach to patients, OCR and in some cases the media when “unsecured protected heath information” is breached.  Meanwhile, the FTC Act and associated regulations require those retailers and certain other parties receiving personal financial information to comply with certain requirements for the protection and use of that information and to provide certain notifications of their privacy polices for protecting personal financial information.

The joint OCR and the FTC investigations raised concerns that:

  • Rite Aid failed to implement adequate policies and procedures to appropriately safeguard patient information during the disposal process;
  • Rite Aid failed to adequately train employees on how to dispose of such information properly; and
  • Rite Aid did not maintain a sanctions policy for members of its workforce who failed to properly dispose of patient information.

Under the HHS resolution agreement, Rite Aid agreed to pay a $1 million resolution amount to HHS and must implement a strong corrective action program under which Rite Aid agreed to:

  • Revise and distribute its policies and procedures regarding disposal of protected health information and sanctioning workers who do not follow them;
  • Train workforce members on these new requirements;
  • Conduct internal monitoring; and
  • Engage a qualified, independent third-party assessor to conduct compliance reviews and render reports to HHS.

In addition, under its FTC consent order, Rite Aid separately agreed to external, independent assessments of its pharmacy stores’ compliance with the FTC consent order.

The HHS corrective action plan will be in place for three years; the FTC order will be in place for 20 years.

Proposed Privacy Rule Changes

The Rite Aid resolution agreement and consent order follows the July 8, 2010 publication by OCR of proposed changes to its existing HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Enforcement Rules in response to amendments enacted under the HITECH Act. Because of the lead time required to implement needed changes in policies, technology and training, Covered Entities need to begin preparations to adjust their health information privacy and data security policies and practices in anticipation of the finalization and implementation of these rules as well as to act quickly to submit their comments about the proposed changes.  .

The more than 220 page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes to revise the existing Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information (Privacy Rule); the Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information (Security Rule); and the rules pertaining to Compliance and Investigations, Imposition of Civil Money Penalties, and Procedures for Hearings (Enforcement Rule) issued under HIPAA.

The author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients with HIPAA and other privacy and data security, reimbursement, compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management matters. Ms. Stamer also is regularly conducts training on HIPAA and other health industry compliance, management and operations matters.  You can get more information about her health industry experience here.  If you need assistance with these or other compliance concerns, wish to inquire about arranging for compliance audit or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872  or via e-mail here.  You may link to her on Plaxo and Linkedin as well where she posts she articles.