Are You the Target of a Medicaid Audit? Here Are the Practical Tips You Need to Know

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Bureau of Medicaid Program Integrity, is the Florida agency responsible for routine Medicaid audits The agency ensures that the Medicaid program was properly billed for services by health care professionals.  Those receiving the greatest amounts of Medicaid payments are also the ones most likely to be audited.  
These include pediatricians, Ob/Gyns, family practice physicians and dentists.  The Medicaid audit usually requests information in a questionnaire form. It also includes a request for copies of medical records (including X-rays and other diagnostic studies) for the patients selected for the audit.

If AHCA determines that Medicaid overpaid for services, it will use a complex mathematical extrapolation formula to determine the repayment amount. Additionally, fines and penalties can be added by the Medicaid program.  However, you can eliminate or reduce the amount of any such repayment by actions taken both before and during the Medicaid audit.


Practical Tips for Your Practice.

There are ways to run your everyday practice that will help you in the event that you are selected for a Medicaid audit.

1.    Every patient record entry should be clearly dated and signed or initialed by the provider.  Make sure this is always done.

2.    When documenting the patient's record, make sure that you document exactly what services were needed and completed in order to support what was billed to Medicaid.

3.    Communicate with the person responsible for your billing so that the actual services provided are billed for. Do not bill in advance for anticipated services needed as indicated in the appointment calendar or on a treatment plan.

4.    Keep the patient records organized and ready for copying, if necessary.  Using only one-sided documents and securely fastening small forms (prescriptions, telephone memos, small sticky notes) onto 8-1/2" by 11" paper will help for those still using paper charts.  Scan all such documents into the patient record if using an electronic health record (EHR).
5.    Services provided by a physician who is not enrolled in the Medicaid program to a Medicaid patient may not be billed to or paid by the Medicaid program.  Therefore, never allow any other physician associated with your practice who is not enrolled as a Medicaid provider to provide services to Medicaid patients.  Do not allow a new physician coming in to your practice treat Medicaid patients until he or she actually has received his or her Medicaid provider number.  The group may not bill for the services, nor may another physician bill for the services.

6.    Ensure that all health care professionals' licenses and permits are kept up to date.  Ensure that all X-ray, clinical lab and diagnostic equipment are permitted and kept up to date.  Ensure that any CLIA license or exemption certificate is correct and kept up to date.  Services billed by unlicensed personnel or services provided by improperly-licensed facilities may not be paid by the Medicaid program.
7.    Use only standard abbreviations in your medical records documentation, orders and reports.  While an abbreviation may seem common to you or your practice, if it is not a universally accepted abbreviation, the auditors may not recognize it.

8.    Make sure all records are timely made, accurate and legible.  Safeguard them, and never let the original leave your office.  Illegible records are treated as a non-record, and payment completely disallowed for an illegible note or order.  A missing record, X-ray or chart entry will result in a complete repayment being directed for those services.


The Medicaid Audit.

If you are on the receiving end of an audit, AHCA will send you a letter notifying you.  AHCA will also supply you with a list of patients to be sampled. A standard sample will include a list of anywhere from 30 to 150 patient names, as a general rule, depending on the size of the practice.  Regular audits routinely request 30 to 50 patients' records.  The audit letter will also include a questionnaire to be completed (Medicaid Provider Questionnaire) and a "Certification of Completeness of Records" form to complete and return with the copies of the patient records.  (Please note: This will be used against you in the future if you attempt to add to or supplement the copies of the records you provided.)

To read a past blog that will let you know if you are the subject of an audit, click here.

It is crucial that you retain the services of an expert consultant or experienced health care attorney in correctly and accurately completing the questionnaire.  The letter will also request that you provide copies of the patient records for the list of patients included with the letter.  You will only be given a short time to provide these documents.

If you have been accused of Medicaid fraud and need to prepare for an auditclick here to watch our informational video blog.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicaid Audits, Investigations and other Legal Proceedings.

Medicaid fraud is a serious crime and is vigorously investigated by the state MFCU, the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), the Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs), the FBI, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Often other state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and other law enforcement agencies participate. Don't wait until it's too late. If you are concerned of any possible violations and would like a confidential consultation, contact a qualified health law attorney familiar with medical billing and audits today.  Often Medicaid fraud criminal charges arise out of routine Medicaid audits, probe audits, or patient complaints.
 
The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (AFLs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions.
 
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.


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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved. 
 
8/14/2018

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