Month: March 2020

Coronavirus: A Tribute to the Good Guys

Typhoon Data’s primary function is to scrutinize healthcare workers and catch those who are creating problems. But we don’t often have the opportunity to say how grateful we are for the vast majority who are making our lives better. With COVID-19, they’ve taken it to the next level. 

With so many unanswered questions, and with so much speculative and incorrect information that has been propagated, I’d like to give a tribute to some who are doing their best to keep the earth spinning – the medical professionals who are the front line in keeping the rest of us safe. 

This includes the many doctors and nurses who have knowingly put themselves at great risk of contracting the virus themselves, the receptionists who are sometimes expected from a 30-second call to be able to tell you if you have Coronavirus or that everything is going to be okay. Many of us look to our healthcare providers as experts on a novel disease that we’ve gotten so much contradictory information about.

Our national and local leaders have adopted what we once might have considered severe strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the overwhelming our medical system. Overwhelming the system could mean running out of bed space, medicine, and other supplies. But it also means overworking the doctors, nurses, and support staff at these facilities. Long hours and high stress can contribute to being more vulnerable to infection and being less able to fight it off.

Even though we’ve “flattened the curve” significantly, the humans taking care of us have acutely felt the effects of this crisis, perhaps more than anyone. And we’re still in the beginning stages.

We can honor our healthcare workers and at the same time, help the cause by keeping level heads and doing the following:

  • Taking recommended precautions seriously – social distancing, washing hands effectively and often, covering coughs and sneezes, etc.
  • Avoiding the urge to panic and over consume products others need such as face masks, rubber gloves, and yes, toilet paper.
  • Being patient when seeking medical assistance. For example, waiting a little longer for appointments, postponing non-essential check-ups, accepting that you won’t likely be able to get tested for COVID-19.

To all healthcare workers currently running toward this disaster: Thank you for what you do. You are noticed and appreciated. Please take care of yourselves as well.

In addition, I’d like to make honorable mentions of a few other unsung groups of people who are steadying the ship: Store managers who are fighting to keep toilet paper on the shelves. Teachers who are struggling with unfamiliar technology to keep educating our children. Lastly, Typhoon Data’s great employees, who are continuing to get the job done from their homes and doing their part to help medical staffing move forward.

OIG Code Descriptions

How do we understand the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) and the different codes that they use?  Codes are used for many purposes, and OIG uses many different codes for many different things. When we see codes, we look at it and say something like “what does that mean?”  We want to focus on codes that OIG uses for excluded individuals, or individuals who have been excluded from Medicare, Medicaid, and other state and federal healthcare programs. We hope this makes it so that the next time you see a code by someone’s name, you will understand why they have been excluded. There are 2 categories of exclusions we will talk about. Mandatory and Permissive exclusions.

Mandatory Exclusions: OIG is required by law to exclude the person or entity from all federal healthcare programs. Mandatory Exclusions can be imposed only for these 6 reasons:

  • 1128(a)(1): This code means that the person or entity has been convicted for a program related crime. The exclusion will last for a minimum of 5 years. 
  • 1128(a)(2): This code means that the person or entity has been convicted for something related to patient abuse or neglect. The exclusion will last for a minimum of 5 years.
  • 1128(a)(3): This code means that the person or entity has been convicted for something related to health care fraud. The exclusion will last for a minimum of 5 years. 
  • 1128(a)(4): This code means that the person or entity has been convicted for something related to a controlled substance. The exclusion will last for a minimum of 5 years.
  • 1128(c)(30(G)(i): This code means that the person or entity has been convicted for a 2nd time. The exclusion will last for a minimum of 10 years.
  • 1128(c)(3)(G)(ii): This code means the person or entity has been convicted 3 or more times. The exclusion will be permanent. 

Permissive Exclusions: OIG can choose for themselves to exclude people and entities. These are all the reasons they can choose to exclude an individual or entity: 

  • 1128(b)(1)(A): This code means that the person or entity has had a misdemeanor conviction that is related to health care fraud. The exclusion will have a Baseline period of 3 years (Starting point to check progress of the individual or entity).
  • 1128(b)(1)(B): This code means that the person or entity has been convicted for fraudulent activity in non-health care programs. The exclusion will have a Baseline period of 3 years (Starting point to check progress of the individual or entity).
  • 1128(b)(2) This code means that the person or entity has been convicted for obstruction of an audit or an investigation. The exclusion will have a Baseline period of 3 years (Starting point to check progress of the individual or entity).
  • 1128(b)(3) This code means that the person or entity has had a misdemeanor related to a controlled substance. The exclusion will have a Baseline period of 3 years (Starting point to check progress of the individual or entity).
  • 1128(b)(4) This code means that the person or entity’s license has been revoked, suspended, or surrendered. The exclusion will last however long the state license authority imposes.
  • 1128(b)(5) This code means that the person or entity has been excluded or suspended under a state or federal health care program. The exclusion will last no less than whatever the state or federal program imposes. 
  • 1128(b)(6) This code means that the person or entity claims for excessive charges, unnecessary services or services that fail to meet professionally recognized standards of healthcare, or failure of an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) to furnish medically necessary services. The exclusion period will last for a minimum of 1 year. 
  • 1128(b)(7) This code means that the person or entity has commited fraud, kickback (bribery), or other activities that are prohibited. The exclusion period has no minimum.
  • 1128(b)(8) This code means that there is an entity that is being controlled by a sanctioned person. The exclusion period minimum is the same length as the exclusion of the individual. 
  • 1128(b)(8)(A) This code means that the entity is being controlled by a family or household member of an individual who has been excluded and the ownership or control of the entity has been transferred or passed to someone else. The exclusion period minimum is the same length as the exclusion of the individual. 
  • 1128(b)(9), (10), and (11) This code means that the person or entity failed to disclose required information, supply the requested information on suppliers and subcontractors, or supply the payment information. The exclusion period has no minimum. 
  • 1128(b)(12) This code means that the person or entity failed to grant immediate access. The exclusion period has no minimum.
  • 1128(b)(13) This code means that the person or entity failed to take corrective action. The exclusion period has no minimum.
  • 1128(b)(14) This code means that a person or entity defaulted on their education loans or scholarship obligations. The exclusion period minimum is until the default or obligation has been resolved. 
  • 1128(b)(15) This code means that a person is controlling a sanctioned entity. The exclusion period minimum is the same length as the exclusion of the entity. 
  • 1128(b)(16) This code means that a person or entity is making false statements or misrepresenting material facts. The exclusion period has no minimum. 
  • 1156 This code means that the person or entity failed to meet statutory obligations of practitioners and providers to provide medical services that meet professionally recognized standards of healthcare. The exclusion period minimum is 1 year. 

We hope that after reading this that OIG codes make more sense to you now. We don’t expect you to memorize them but we do hope that these help you when it comes to choosing an individual or entity for a job or other things related to healthcare. 

References:

  1. https://oig.hhs.gov/exclusions/authorities.asp
  2. https://oig.hhs.gov/exclusions/background.asp