Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) put forth his much-anticipated Framework for Comprehensive Health Reform on September 8, 2009. The Framework outlines a plan for consideration by the Finance Committee’s “Gang of Six” bipartisan negotiators and includes policies that reflect the work of the committee throughout the summer. In addition to other areas of health reform, the Framework includes policies specific to both “transparency and program integrity” and “fraud, waste and abuse”:
- New enrollment process for providers and suppliers, including an application fee
- Data matching and data sharing across federal health care programs
- Increased civil monetary penalties
- Increased authority to suspend payment during credible investigations of fraud
- New procedures to disclose and repay overpayments
- Limitations on physician-owned hospitals
- Requirements for drug, device and biologic manufacturers to report any payments or transfers of value, with limited exceptions, made to a physician or teaching hospital
- Requirements for drug manufacturers and authorized drug distributors to report the type and amount of drug samples requested and distributed to practitioners
Additional details about these provisions will be contained in the Chairman’s Mark of the bill, which will be made available prior to committee markup, which is expected later this month. Importantly, similar provisions are contained in the House health reform bill, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) bill also includes provisions related to fraud and abuse enforcement.
What’s at Stake
Each health reform proposal to date includes provisions designed to prevent or deter fraud and abuse. Furthermore, reducing the rising cost of health care is a goal shared by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and reduction in fraud, waste and abuse is generally viewed as an area of significant savings. The health sector should expect that increased fraud and abuse scrutiny and enforcement will be included in any health reform package passed by Congress.
Steps to Consider
Evaluate the impact of fraud and abuse proposals in pending legislation. Assess how current compliance programs, policies and procedures will need to be updated to address requirements common to health reform proposals.