OIG Expands Enforcement Directed at Physicians

Posted on Health Care Law News by author

During the annual meeting of the American Health Lawyers Association, representatives from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), announced the creation of a designated litigation team exclusively focused on civil monetary penalties and exclusion cases, with a particular focus on physicians. The OIG team will provide an additional mechanism through which the government will be targeting fraud, waste, and abuse outside of the criminal context, and in addition to False Claims Act litigation. The enforcement will likely affect smaller practices and sole practitioners who cannot afford the financial penalties associated with criminal fraud charges and False Claims Act cases, as well as non-settling parties involved in conduct associated with a False Claims Act case.

Robert Penezic, a current OIG deputy branch chief will head the litigation team which will eventually include ten attorneys. Their primary tasks will be to increase enforcement against and oversight of providers and individuals in cases initiated by the OIG concerning kickbacks and non-compliance with corporate integrity agreement obligations. The team will also pursue cases that the United States Department of Justice does not in order to “complement” DOJ’s enforcement activities.

In order to avoid becoming the subject of an OIG or other investigation, it is important for healthcare practitioners and practices to protect themselves by ensuring compliance with federal laws, rules and regulations. The attorneys at Nicholson & Eastin, LLP, can assist you in conducting compliance reviews and advise you on practices you can employ to avoid compliance issues.