On March 30, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a message acknowledging the burden that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed on the healthcare industry nationwide. Due to the challenges of the pandemic and OIG’s high priority of ensuring the health care community is able to provide much needed care to the public during the pandemic, the OIG is taking action to provide regulatory flexibility and relieve some of the burden on providers.
For instance, OIG’s Office of Audit Services will plan and conduct audits while accounting for special rules in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. This should grant a level of flexibility to providers when OIG assesses their compliance. Further, the OIG assured providers that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it would carefully consider the context and intent of the parties when assessing whether to proceed with any enforcement action.
Additionally, OIG acknowledged that health care organizations may need extensions for certain OIG deadlines to produce data for an OIG review or to comply with a Corporate Integrity Agreement. The OIG message encouraged any such organizations to reach out to their OIG contact, who will work with them to reach a reasonable solution.
Lastly, OIG will be investigating any potential bad actors that may be attempting to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, OIG will be investigating actors that may be preying on people’s fears during the pandemic in order to steal their personal health information and/or sell fake COVID-19 testing kits or unapproved therapies.
For any questions regarding OIG’s message minimizing burdens on providers, please contact Adrienne Dresevic, Esq. or Abby Pendleton, Esq. at (248) 996-8510 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.