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All Eyes on Compliance with New Whistleblower Laws

With the new laws and incentives reported in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we are seeing more whistleblowers come forth alleging healthcare fraud. Currently, 90% of health care fraud cases are whistleblower cases — often in which the behavior of the “ethically challenged” directly poses risks to public health.

Regardless of whether whistleblowers are concerned citizens, disgruntled employees or senior executives with a “lottery mentality”, hospitals and other healthcare companies must have strong compliance programs in place to stop fraudulent activity — such as improperly billing Medicare and Medicaid and kickbacks to doctors. A list of healthcare companies that have signed corporate integrity agreements with the OIG can be found here.

With the new incentives, hospitals and other healthcare companies are even more susceptible to whistleblowers. Now is the time to review your current compliance program and develop the necessary internal controls to protect your organization from committing fraud. Below are 4 simple but important considerations to keep in mind when evaluating compliance programs:

1. Periodic comprehensive fraud risk assessments are conducted.
2. Standards of conduct for employees are written and distributed.
3. Educational and training programs are offered to all employees.
4. Audits are conducted to monitor compliance and identify problem areas.

The effectiveness of whistleblowers is also an integral part of the effort to combat healthcare fraud. The first thing people need to do when encountering fraudulent activity in their workplace is to make sure that they understand the reporting framework and seek appropriate legal counsel. As an expert witness, I have seen first-hand the enormous complexity of whistleblower suits.

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