FRAUD: Feds May Shift Focus To Staffing Cutbacks
The Justice Department warned last week that cutting back staff to save money at the expense of patients could land health care providers in legal hot water. Speaking at a meeting of the American Health Lawyers Association, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said "reducing staff solely to improve the bottom line and endangering patients in the process 'may constitute financial fraud against the government.'" Modern Healthcare reports that "[f]ederal enforcement agencies said earlier this year that they were looking into whether Medicare managed care plans have shortchanged seniors on medically necessary services." Officials from the Health Care Financing Administration, the Health and Human Services Inspector General's office and the Justice Department met last week "to refine their approach in investigating such violations at nursing homes." According to Modern Healthcare, "[p]robes into deep staffing cutbacks are a change in emphasis for federal fraud investigators. Their primary focus has been on financial fraud by providers." The American Hospital Association's Richard Pollack said, "Until we talk to [Holder], we're not going to have a formal response, because we find it so off-base that they could construe restructuring and efficiency as fraud and abuse" (Gardner, 10/26 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.