The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA or Obamacare) contained a requirement that long-term care facilities have a compliance program by October 23, 2013.
The regulations were not ready on time.
The regulations were finally dropped into the massive regulations package to be published on October 4, 2016. [Code of Federal Regulations 42.483.35]
If a facility does not have a compliance plan, it should not wait more than a year to comply. In a highly regulated environment enforced by numerous criminal laws and civil sanctions a compliance program has really been necessary all along.
The heart of a compliance program is billing integrity, when you ask the government for a check you certify the billing is accurate. Facilities are subject to the false claims act and the anti-kickback statute plus other civil and criminal penalties.
Billing integrity is not the end of a compliance program.
Given the massive regulatory program facing LTCFs the program must be broader.
The regulations delineate a minimal standard as well as a standard for groups with five or more facilities. Facilities are free to exceed the minimum expectations and a more robust program is advised.
Is a compliance program more expense and work with no benefit? No, it should be much more. A compliance plan can prevent government sanctions and can also serve as a performance audit for numerous aspects of your operations.
The “self-survey” used by many facilities are a preliminary approach to the state survey which is a type of performance audit that ties nicely to a compliance program.
Where to obtain guidance on a compliance program? The DHHS, Office of Inspector General offers direction for some, in the form of a series of guidance documents. [https://oig.hhs.gov/compliance/compliance-guidance/index.asp]
We can provide consulting and written direction on successful compliance programs.