HHS Inspector General Re-Issues Updated Fraud Alert – DME Suppliers Beware!

no_telephone.jpgHealth and Human Services Office of Inspector General released an updated fraud alert “Telemarketing by Durable Medical Equipment Suppliers” originally published in March 2003.
The Fraud Alert states in relevant part:
Section 1834(a)(17)(A) of the Social Security Act prohibits suppliers of durable medical equipment (DME) from making unsolicited telephone calls to Medicare beneficiaries regarding the furnishing of a covered item, except in three specific situations: (i) the beneficiary has given written permission to the supplier to make contact by telephone; (ii) the contact is regarding a covered item that the supplier has already furnished the beneficiary; or (iii) the supplier has furnished at least one covered item to the beneficiary during the preceding 15 months. Section 1834(a)(17)(B) specifically prohibits payment to a supplier that knowingly submits a claim generated pursuant to a prohibited telephone solicitation. Accordingly, such claims for payment are false and violators are potentially subject to criminal, civil, and administrative penalties, including exclusion from Federal health care programs.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has received credible information that some DME suppliers continue to use independent marketing firms to make unsolicited telephone calls to Medicare beneficiaries to market DME, notwithstanding the clear statutory prohibition. Suppliers cannot do indirectly that which they are prohibited from doing directly. OIG has also been made aware of instances when DME suppliers, notwithstanding the clear statutory prohibition, contact Medicare beneficiaries by telephone based solely on treating physicians’ preliminary written or verbal orders prescribing DME for the beneficiaries. A physician’s preliminary written or verbal order is not a substitute for the requisite written consent of a Medicare beneficiary.
To read the Fraud Alert: Click here.
All OIG Special Fraud Alerts are available on the OIG Web
site at: http://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/fraudalerts.asp
To read the Federal Register: Click here.