health care fraud and abuse
Home health agencies (HHAs) provide health care services to assist individuals with a disability, or who are ill, injured, or elderly. It is a cost-effective and convenient method of receiving quality care that is provided from the comfort of the patient’s own home. While HHAs have been around for years, primarily to serve the elderly and avoid hospitalization, the post-pandemic “at-home” era has made it the fastest-growing healthcare industry in the country. However, the high demands and good intentions of instilling home health agencies come with its adverse counterpart- fraud and abuse.
In the fight against COVID-19, healthcare innovation has been unprecedented. New technology, protocols, and laws have changed the way healthcare functions. However, physician compensation remains complex, burdensome, and often contentious. Physician compensation has always invited compliance risks, operational bottlenecks, and administrative burdens, but now, innovative hospitals are simplifying the process with automation.
Recently, pharmaceutical companies are gaining increased notoriety for violations of the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, and general fraudulent practices directed toward physicians and medical care providers with the intent to increase profits. In 2019, Avanir Pharmaceuticals settled with the Department of Justice to pay more than $108 million of criminal penalties and civil damages for engaging in kickbacks with physicians, and misleading marketing of their drug Nudexta for unapproved purposes. Then, in May of 2021, Incyte Corp., a Delaware-based pharmaceutical manufacturer agreed to pay $12.6 million for unspecified damages arising under a violation of the Federal False Claims Act for improperly using an independent foundation to cover copays of individuals consuming Incyte’s cancer drug, Jakafi. Despite widespread prosecutions against pharmaceutical drug manufacturers, and the fraud deterrent provisions of the False Claims Act, the risk of fraud and remuneration still runs high in relationships between healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies.
This summer I had the opportunity to intern with the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) in Washington, DC. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with OIG, and I learned a great deal about health care fraud, waste, and abuse. In spending my summer with OIG, I had a glimpse into the powerful regulatory bodies that protect the health care market from abuse. As I move forward with my career in regulatory work, I will take with me the invaluable experiences and skills from my internship.