Health Law Blog - Healthcare Legal Issues

Fraud Risks In Nursing Home/Hospice Relationships

Fraud Risks Between Nursing Homes and Hospice Providers

Hospice Nursing Home Fraud and AbuseRelationships between hospices and nursing homes are a particular area of concern.  OIG is inherently suspicious of benefits that hospices may provide to nursing homes in order to gain hospice referrals of nursing home patients.  For example, if a hospice provides services to nursing home patients that are normally provided by the nursing home, the benefit could be deemed to be a “kickback” for referrals.  Hospices should have clear policies and procedures regarding the scope of services to be provided to nursing home patients.  Any formal agreement with a nursing home should be carefully scrutinized to assure compliance and provision should be added agreeing to the appropriate scope of care that is to be provided to nursing home patients.

Government focus on hospice providers should heighten awareness to these issues.  Hospices must make certain that they have formal compliance programs in place and that the compliance program is actively operated to identify and address risk.  Certainly, the risks identified above should be addressed by all hospice providers.  There are a broad range of additional items that should be actively addressed.  Additionally, all elements of the compliance program should be fully operationalized.  Even the most robust compliance program will not necessarily detect all compliance problems.  It is important that hospice providers are able to demonstrate that they are continually monitoring risk and operating their program.  When undetected programs come to light, the hospice provider will be able to show that reasonable steps are routinely taken to identify and correct problems.  This will go a long ways toward reducing potential exposure, even in cases where risk is not detected through the program.

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John H. Fisher

Health Care Counsel
Ruder Ware, L.L.S.C.
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