September 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 262

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The Honeymoon Phase Is Over: OIG to Audit COVID-19 Part B Telehealth Services

Telehealth services and providers have been in high demand as the world copes with the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Federal and state agencies have amended, and often loosened, regulations in an attempt to facilitate and expand access to telehealth.  However, the honeymoon phase of relaxed oversight may be coming to an end as the world adjusts to a new-normal.

On January 26, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) announced a new telehealth-related audit targeting the implementation of telehealth waivers by home health agencies during the public health emergency, which we previously covered here.  On the same day, OIG announced a second telehealth-related audit to investigate a broad swath of telehealth services, dubbed “Audits of Medicare Part B Telehealth Services During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” (the “Announcement”).

In the Announcement, the OIG reveals its plan to conduct a series of audits of Medicare Part B telehealth services.  The audits will occur in two phases.  The first phase aims to make an early assessment of whether services “such as evaluation and management, opioid use order, end-stage renal disease, and psychotherapy” meet Medicare requirements.  The second phase will dive deeper into a broad range of Medicare Part B telehealth services and compliance issues, including “distant and originating site locations, virtual check-in services, electronic visits, remote patient monitoring, use of telehealth technology, and annual wellness visits.”

Robust compliance programs are key to avoiding censure and other unwanted penalties that could result from the OIG’s ramp-up of telehealth oversight.

We will continue to monitor the OIG’s telehealth-related activities, particularly as OIG begins to rollback policies that enabled rapid expansion of telehealth services at the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Copyright © 2021, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 43
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About this Author

Kenneth Yood Healthcare Attorney SheppardMullin
Partner

Ken is a partner in the Corporate practice group in the firm's Los Angeles office. Chambers USAranks him highly for Healthcare, where he was commended for his "broad-based ability in the regulatory area." Clients appreciate that "his explanations are clear, and he understands the business side of things," notes Chambers 2016.

Areas of Practice

Ken represents a wide range of healthcare providers and healthcare companies, including specialty and general acute hospitals (including local district, nonprofit and...

310-228-3708
Matthew Shatzkes Attorney New York Sheppard Mullin
Partner

Matthew Shatzkes is a partner in the Corporate Practice Group in the New York office of Sheppard Mullin and is a member of the firm’s healthcare practice team.

Areas of Practice

Matthew provides strategic, regulatory, compliance, and transactional advice to all manner of health care clients, including health systems, hospitals, academic medical centers, long-term care providers, ambulatory surgery centers, diagnostic and treatment centers, physician practices, digital health companies and investors....

212-634-3062
John Tilton Corporate Attorney
Associate

John M. Tilton is an associate in the Corporate Practice group in the firm's Century City office.

Education

  • J.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2018

  • B.A., Hillsdale College, 2014

Admissions

  • California

424-288-5317
Eva Schifini Corporate Attorney Sheppard Mullin Century City, CA
Associate

Eva Schifini is an associate in the Corporate Practice Group in the firm's Century City office and is a member of the firm’s Healthcare team.

Prior to joining Sheppard Mullin, she worked as a research assistant to an economist at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics at University of Southern California.

310-228-2296
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