OIG schedules another review of EHR incentive payments

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) oversight agency plans to take another look at federal EHR incentive payments made to hospitals over the last six years, building on recent reports estimating the feds have improperly paid providers hundreds of millions of dollars to adopt medical records software.

In a midyear update to its 2017 Work Plan, HHS’ Office of Inspector General included a review of the Medicare EHR incentive program on a list of 14 updates posted to the OIG’s website. A report is scheduled to publish next year.

The update comes several weeks after the OIG identified $729 million in inappropriate incentive payments made to providers that did not meet Meaningful Use requirements. Last week, two GOP senators urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to go after that money even as physician groups have said they will protest efforts to recoup incentive payments.

RELATED: Senators push CMS to recoup improper Meaningful Use payments; physicians cry foul

In May, a $155 million settlement between eClinicalWorks and the Department of Justice shook up the EHR industry following allegations that the software company prompted fraudulent incentive payments by falsifying Meaningful Use certification.

The forthcoming OIG audit will focus specifically on Medicare payments made to hospitals between 2011 and 2016, which total $14.6 billion. The agency points to several reviews of state Medicaid EHR incentive programs that identified $66.7 million in overpayments.

In addition to the EHR incentive program, OIG added a review of Medicare payments for telehealth services. The agency plans to release a report later this year that reviews Medicare claims for services provided at a distant site that don't include corresponding claims from the originating site.