Home Health Agencies

Nurse Checking Patient for Pain Symptoms

Home health care agencies (HHAs) are one of the most regulated types of health care businesses. Because of the scrutiny of claims by CMS and patient complaints to the state, HHAs need systems and tools in place to help them remain compliant with the many regulations that impact the delivery of home health care.

Chapman Law Group has a team of attorneys who assist HHAs with all aspects of owning and managing an HHA, including HHA formation and acquisition, compliance, licensing and certification, healthcare employment and business issues, audits, and defense of fraud and abuse allegations. 

Our attorneys regularly represent health care businesses before the state licensing boards, administrative courts, CMS, credentialing committees, accreditation agencies and law enforcement agencies.

Home Health Business Matters

Chapman Law Group’s transactional attorneys have a great deal of experience assisting varies types of health care practices, including homes health care agencies, with transactional issues. Many of our transactional attorneys have master of laws degrees in health care law and are exceptionally educated and experienced in the many regulations that impact home health care.

Our attorneys assist both existing home health agencies and startup agencies with compliance, licensing, administrative actions, CMS issues, reimbursement issues, audits, business disputes and various contracts.

We assist new home health agencies with:

    • Business formation
    • Medicare and Medicaid certification
    • Medicare conditions of participation
    • Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) setup and compliance plan
    • Initial survey
    • Accreditation (The Joint Commission, the Community Health Accreditation Program and the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc.)
    • AHCA licensing (Florida)
    • Medical Director, Director of Nursing and administrator contracts
    • Draft policies and procedures, compliance manuals and emergency management plans
    • Review business plans and contracts for compliance with federal and state fraud and abuse laws

We assist existing home health agencies with:

    • Purchase and sales agreements
    • Recertification
    • Change of ownership (CHOW) or location issues
    • Adding additional services
    • Reimbursement issues
    • Overpayment action
    • Audits (Medicare, Medicaid and third party)
    • Onsite compliance surveys and deficiency reports
    • Health care fraud defense (false claims, anti-kickback, Stark Laws)
    • OASIS issues
    • Draft policies and procedures, compliance manuals and emergency management plans
    • Review for compliance with anti-kickback statute, Stark Laws, and CMS billing rules
    • Business and contract disputes
    • Medical Director, Director of Nursing and administrator contracts
    • Health care employment disputes
    • OIG investigations and exclusions

Licensing and Disciplinary Actions

Generally, disciplinary action begins after a patient complaint is received by the state, or the state discovers deficiencies during a survey/inspection. This often results in administrative action against the home health agencies. Our home health attorneys regularly assist home health agencies with administrative actions, including:

    • Notice of intent to deny license
    • Denial of change of ownership or location
    • Patient abuse allegations
    • Overpayment demands (Medicare and Medicaid)
    • Revocation of license
    • Violations found during survey
    • Background screening violations
    • All other actions seeking sanctions and disciplinary action against a licensee

We also represent licensed home health professionals facing disciplinary action for:

    • Patient abuse
    • Theft
    • Drug diversion
    • Criminal convictions
    • DUI/OWI
    • All other disciplinary actions

Disciplinary and licensing actions are very serious. For licensed professionals, disciplinary action can lead to loss of licensure. For agencies, it could lead to revocation of a license and hefty fines. Our licensing attorneys are exceptionally experienced in defending nurses and agencies who face disciplinary action by the state (AHCA, DOH, LARA, ODH, etc.). We assist home health nurses and agencies during all stages of the disciplinary process, including investigations, inspections, complaints, Notice of Intent, administrative hearing, appeals and modifications.

Fraud and Abuse

The OIG has made it clear that they are heavily monitoring home health agencies for fraud, waste and abuse. In recent years, they have increased investigations, audits, evaluations and enforcement actions against home health agencies. 

In the four years between 2011 and 2015, the OIG reports more than 350 criminal and civil actions against home health agencies for $975 million. Both home health agencies and physicians certifying patients for home care must ensure compliance with fraud and abuse laws at all times. 

Fortunately, the OIG has released their list of red flags for fraud, including:

      1. High percentage of episodes for which the beneficiary had no recent visits with the supervising physician
      2. High percentage of episodes that were not preceded by a hospital or nursing home stay
      3. High percentage of episodes with a primary diagnosis of diabetes or hypertension
      4. High percentage of beneficiaries with claims from multiple HHAs
      5. High percentage of beneficiaries with multiple home health readmissions in a short period of time

The OIG reports that common home health care fraud schemes involve:

    • Billing for services not rendered
    • Misrepresentation of services
    • Medically unnecessary services
    • Falsification of medical records and physician authorizations
    • False certification of patients as homebound or requiring home health services

In addition to false claims, violation of the federal or state anti-kickback and Stark laws can lead to criminal and civil action for health care fraud. These laws are complex, however; there are exceptions to the laws that allow home health agencies to lawfully market and obtain referrals. Our lawyers frequently assist home health agencies with the review of business plans and contracts to ensure compliance with all fraud and abuse laws.

Audits and Overpayments

As mentioned, home health agencies are increasingly undergoing audits and their claims are being heavily scrutinized. We assist home health agencies with all stages of the Medicare and Medicaid audit process

Our team of attorneys includes a former health care fraud prosecutor who is exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced in fraud detection strategies, audit procedures, appeals process, and administrative, civil and criminal proceedings.

Audits are conducted for two reasons: 1) to spot check claims samples, including high-risk claims, and 2) investigate claims where there is a suspicion of fraud. We help agencies respond to records requests in a manner that demonstrates that claims meet all required conditions of payment.

If recoupment is sought, we assist agencies with overpayment demand appeals and/or negotiate a more favorable settlement/repayment schedule.

The Medicare appeals process is complicated with five different stages, multiple parties, multiple filing deadlines and evidentiary deadlines. Therefore, we strongly recommend that agencies retain attorneys to respond to auditor’s requests and appeal overpayment demands.

Overpayment action can lead to recoupment of the overpayment (ten of hundreds of dollars), plus fines, penalties, interest, payment delay on future claims and even of loss of licensure.

The National Healthcare Attorneys of Chapman Law Group Will Guide Your Home Healthcare Agency Through Legal Terrain

Each lawyer at Chapman Law Group is immersed in specific areas of health care law. We only focus on health care professionals, so every attorney has developed a deep understanding of the nuisances, depth, and breadth within the field.

For 35 years, we have provided top legal service for physicians all over the U.S. Our four national offices are in Detroit, Michigan; Miami and Sarasota, Florida; and Los Angeles/Southern California.

 Contact us today and let us put our expertise to work for you.
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