OIG: Physicians Should Exercise Caution When Reassigning Medicare Payments

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is warning physicians that they may be liable for false claims submitted by entities to which the physicians reassigned their Medicare payments. Physicians can legally reassign their Medicare payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to outside organizations by filling out Form CMS-855$ (PDF). However, an OIG Alert issued on February 8, 2012 cautions physicians to use increased scrutiny of entities prior to reassigning their Medicare payments.

The OIG recently reached settlements with eight physicians who violated the Civil Monetary Penalties Law by causing the submission of false claims to Medicare from physical medicine companies. In this case, the physicians reassigned their Medicare payments to various physical medicine companies in exchange for Medical Directorship positions. While serving as Medical Directors, the physicians did not personally render or direct any services. OIG says there was evidence that the services the physical medicine companies claimed the physicians performed were not actually performed or were not performed as billed.

“The failure of the physicians to monitor the services billed using their reassigned provider numbers resulted in individuals with little or no medical background serving as physical therapy ‘technicians,’” according to the Alert. “These unlicensed ‘technicians,’ including retail cashiers and massage therapists, rendered unsupervised in-home physician therapy services to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The physical medical companies falsely billed Medicare using the physicians’ reassigned provider numbers as if the physicians personally rendered the services or directly supervised a ‘technician’ rendering the services.”

Click here to read the complete OIG Alert.

 
 

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