OIG Work Plan 2017

NEW: Medicare Hospice Benefit Vulnerabilities and Recommendations for Improvement:
The Medicare hospice program is an important benefit for beneficiaries and their families at the end of life. However, OIG and others have identified vulnerabilities in payment, compliance, and oversight as well as quality-of-care concerns, which can have significant consequences both for beneficiaries and for the program. We will summarize OIG evaluations, audits, and investigative work on Medicare hospices and highlight key recommendations for protecting beneficiaries and improving the program.

NEW: Review of Hospices’ Compliance with Medicare Requirements
Hospice provides palliative care for terminally ill beneficiaries and supports family and other caregivers. When a beneficiary elects hospice care, the hospice agency assumes the responsibility for medical care related to the beneficiary’s terminal illness and related conditions. Federal regulations address Medicare conditions of and limitations on payment for hospice services (42 CFR Part 418, Subpart G). We will review hospice medical records and billing documentation to determine whether Medicare payments for hospice services were made in accordance with Medicare requirements.

NEW: Hospice Home Care — Frequency of Nurse On-Site Visits to Assess Quality of Care and Services
In 2013, more than 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries received hospice services from more than 3,900 hospice providers, and Medicare hospice expenditures totaled $15.1 billion. Hospices are required to comply with all Federal, State, and local laws and regulations related to the health and safety of patients (42 CFR § 418.116). Medicare requires that a registered nurse make an on-site visit to the patient’s home at least once every 14 days to assess the quality of care and services provided by the hospice aide and to ensure that services ordered by the hospice interdisciplinary group meet the patient’s needs (42 CFR § 418.76(h)(1)(i)). We will determine whether registered nurses made required on-site visits to the homes of Medicare beneficiaries who were in hospice care.