Since the advent of the Medicaid managed care program there has been a lingering question as to when a Medicaid dollar stopped being a Medicaid dollar.
With fee-for-service providers that were paid directly by the Medicaid program, the answer was always clear-cut – each dollar received from the Medicaid program was a Medicaid dollar and therefore it and the provider who received it were subject to the audit authority of the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”).
But what about providers contracted through Medicaid managed care organizations (“MCO”) and not directly enrolled as Medicaid providers? Before Governor Cuomo issued his Executive Budget earlier this month, there was debate as to where the OMIG’s audit authority stopped with arguments on either side of the line. Many argued that the OMIG’s authority stopped with at the doors of the MCO. After the money was paid to the MCO it was able to negotiate contracts directly with providers and disburse the funds as it saw fit, with each MCO operating independently of each other. The other side of the coin was that a dollar spent with the purpose of providing care to a Medicaid recipient established that the dollar was a Medicaid dollar from start to finish, regardless of whether it was passed through a MCO.
With the Executive Budget, however, all confusion and debate will be settled. Per the proposed language of the Health and Mental Hygiene Article VII Legislation, Social Services Law Section 364-j will be amended to state that “[a]ny payment made pursuant to the state’s managed care program, including payments made by managed long term care plans, shall be deemed a payment by the state’s medical assistance program.”
The Executive Budget goes further, clearly defining the OMIG’s ability to recover overpayments made by a MCO to its contracted providers that were discovered during an OMIG audit or investigation, as well as during an investigation or prosecution by the New York State Office of the Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (“MFCU”). If the OMIG is unable to recover the overpayment, the MCO may be required to act on the OMIG’s behalf to recoup the overpaid funds and repay the State within six months of receiving notice of the overpayment.
The legislation sets January 1, 2018 as the start of the review period and, without any amendments to the budget bill by the Legislature, will go into effect immediately upon the Governor signing the bills into law. With the OMIG poised to begin these audits, MCO-contracted providers should familiarize themselves with the OMIG’s audit protocols and procedures.
Medicaid providers, both fee-for-service and those contracted with MCO, who are interested in taking a proactive stance in preparing for an OMIG or MFCU audit or investigation, or providers who are already the subject of one are encouraged to contact Farrell Fritz’s Regulatory & Government Relations Practice Group at 518.313.1450 or NYSRGR@FarrellFritz.com to plan your next move.