When a public health emergency was declared last March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a variety of waivers allowing home health providers to more easily provide telehealth services during the crisis. Now the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has announced an audit, dubbed the “HHA Telehealth Project,” that will examine home health providers’ usage of telehealth over the last year while the flexibilities were granted.
The OIG’s mission is to provide objective oversight of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs. The watchdog group uses risk analysis and vulnerability-assessment tools to develop its work plans. Its original plan for the telehealth audit in home health was released in January, but it was revised last week. The final report is expected to be published in 2022. It is unclear how the OIG will pick providers to audit but their bandwidth is unlikely great enough to survey a large number of agencies, meaning it will likely choose a smaller sample size.
Be aware, it is not just home health. It is likely that these types of audits will continue in health care at large as the pandemic subsides and flexibilities elsewhere are set to expire. Please refer to the Section 1135 Waiver provisions that were issued to be sure you are doing the right things and avoid scrutiny by the OIG.
Stay the course, stay well, get vaccinated, and stay tuned!