Fraud, abuse information available on new hotline

A new hotline is available for health care providers and executives concerned about the recent increase in federal prosecutions for Medicare/Medicaid fraud and abuse. The toll- free number [(888) 242-9696] and related Internet answer line (www.rbvdnr.com) were launched by the law firm Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren, Norris & Rieselbach in Milwaukee in anticipation of a rise in local prosecutions due to the recent addition of special federal investigators to the Milwaukee and Madison branches of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

"The recent prosecution of Columbia/HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain, has increased awareness of the potential risk a provider can face if billing procedures do not comply with federal laws. Even providers who believe they are following all appropriate procedures may be at risk if they have interpreted the laws incorrectly. Although most health care providers probably have not violated criminal laws, the laws are complex and ambiguous," Robert J. Heath, health care department chair at Reinhart, Boerner, said in a statement announcing the hotline. "A procedure that is billed incorrectly on a consistent basis could result in a major financial error over time, putting a provider at risk of prosecution due to the cumulative impact of that error."

Staffed by the firm’s health care fraud team, the hotline is designed to inform providers if they need to take action to prevent bigger problems. The team also provides services to help providers avoid problems, including audits to identify and remedy any problems in a provider’s operation; development of compliance plans and programs to uncover and help prevent fraud and abuse; and development of contracts for mergers, acquisitions, and other transactions to avoid violations.

In addition to defending actual prosecutions for health care fraud, the team will represent health care providers during a federal investigation.