Which Federal & State Exclusion Lists Should Be Screened?

Exclusion Lists

The complex web of regulation encompassing government health care dollars is a lot to take on. With 41 state exclusion lists and several federal lists, it can be difficult to know which exclusion lists to screen, let alone actually screening them all. Each government payor of healthcare dollars has a different set of rules on who is allowed and who isn’t allowed to bill their services. Healthcare providers are not legal experts, nor should they have to be. Rather than taking the risk of non-compliance, we break down exclusion regulations for you and explain which exclusion, sanction, debarment, or termination list you must check
as a healthcare provider.


 


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What is an Exclusion?

Exclusions are a final administrative action that is intended to protect the financial integrity of health benefit programs and beneficiaries by removing individuals and entities that pose a risk to them. While a party does have right when noticed that they are about to be excluded, as a final administrative action, once excluded there is no further appeals process.

Impact of Exclusions

An exclusion is the nuclear bomb of administrative actions. As a result of an exclusion, a payment prohibition is enforced. Federal and State programs will not pay or items or services furnished, directly or indirectly, by excluded entities. In essence, the government has decided that they do not want programs to pay for the overhead or salaries of excluded parties. Therefore, to comply with exclusion regulations it is best to screen all employees, contractors, vendors and even volunteers.

Scope of the Payment Prohibition

The payment prohibition extends to anyone who has an effect on patient care. This extends to all services connected to a practice, including but not limited to:

  • Billing, Claim Processing, and Accounting Services
  • Leadership, Management, Administrative, and Strategic Services
  • Human Resource and Information Technology Services
  • Transportation Services – including drivers and dispatchers 
  • Even volunteers if their activities contribute to a bundle of services

Where are exclusions listed? How many exclusion lists are there?

Exclusion Screening recommends for best practice to screen against two Federal Exclusion lists, and 41 state lists. The primary healthcare exclusion list is the OIG/LEIE. Together with the GSA SAM, previously known as the EPLS, the LEIE and the SAM make up the two Federal Exclusion Lists. While the GSA/SAM is not a healthcare-specific list, it is a federal debarment list and any party on it cannot enter into any federal contract.

While screening these lists are best practice, there are many more exclusion lists such as the CMS Preclusion list, OFAC, SDN, among others. Depending on your organization’s payors, contracts, or state requirements you may have to screen more than our recommendation. 

Screening Obligations for Fee for Service Medicare

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (OIG) maintains the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE). This is considered the most comprehensive of all exclusion lists, with over 70,000 names on it. At a minimum, the OIG-LEIE must be checked to participate in Fee for Service Medicare.

However, checking only this list opens an entity up to risk.
This is because although every state is required to send their exclusions-for-cause to the OIG, some states are slow to do so and often miss sending some parties. As a result, the OIG-LEIE is missing several excluded parties. Despite the OIG missing these parties on their list, an entity is still liable if they screen the LEIE and hire the party. For this reason, it is also important to check state-level exclusion lists. 

Screening for Medicare Advantage Providers

Medicare Advantage providers have unique screening requirements. They must screen both the OIG/LEIE and the CMS Preclusion list. Medicare Part C and Part D Plan Sponsors are unique because they are the only group of providers that must screen the Preclusion list and are the only ones to have access to the list (the Preclusion is not public).

The list differs from the OIG/LEIE because, unlike the OIG/LEIE, the Preclusion List does not require a final action for a party to be added to it. If there is a basis for revocation, such as participating in conduct that COULD result in revocation, whether or not the revocation happens, a party may be put on the preclusion list. While Medicaid Advantage Providers are the only ones to have access to the CMS Preclusion list, they may delegate screening of the list to a third-party such as Exclusion Screening. (Read more about the preclusion list here)

Screening Requirements Imposed by State Medicaid Programs

Most states have two different sets of screening requirements. The “Basic” screening requirements flows from letters issued by CMS to each state Medicaid director mandating monthly exclusion screening by Medicaid providers. This requires screening of the OIG/LEIE, the state exclusion list (if there is one), and some state have state-specific lists that must be searched (i.e. sex-offender list, elder abuse list).

Additional requirements are associated with Provider Agreement and Reenrollment forms. These contain significant disclosure and verification requirements. However, there is no consistent standard between the states. For example, as part of the Texas Medicaid participation agreement, a provider must check ALL states and federal databases and certify, under penalty of perjury, that none of their employees, contractors, and vendors are on them. While in Louisiana a provider must certify that no employee, vendor or contractor has EVER been excluded from ANY program. Although many state requirements do not explicitly say what must be screened, how could a provider give an honest answer and protect themselves from perjury without screening all exclusion lists.

A map of states with their own exclusion list (in red) can be found below.

Exclusion Lists

Medicaid Advantage Care Screening Requirements

Medicaid Managed Care Plans may not work with any of the following to provide, directly or indirectly, “the administration, management, or medical services or establishment of policies or provision of operational support for such services.”

  • Any individual or entity that is (or affiliated with a person or entity that is) debarred, suspended, or excluded from participating in procurement activities under the Federal Acquisition Requirement (FAR) or,
  • Any individual or entity that is excluded from participation in any Federal healthcare program…
To ensure that your organization is complying with the FAR regulation, it is important to screen against the GSA/SAM, as well as the OIG/LEIE and the 41 state exclusion lists. 

Enforcement Mechanisms

OIG’s Civil Money Penalties Authority for Exclusion Related Violations:

Exclusion Lists

It is important to remember that each of these Civil Money Penalties is for each offense. A provider who has worked with an excluded party can quickly rack up several offenses with each claim submitted to a health benefits program.

Failure to screen can also result in False Claims Act liability. While a provider must “knowingly” hire an excluded party to be open to False Claims Act liability, “knowingly” by statute includes reckless disregard or deliberate ignorance, such as not doing exclusion screening. 

Additional Consideration #1: Almost Every Risk Area is Directly Related to Employees or Contractors

Human capital is the heart of your practice, but also is the biggest risk in your organization. Any plan to lessen risk needs to start with ensuring that all employees and contractors are screened.

Additional Consideration #2: Screening is part of an effective compliance plan

As of 2017, the OIG has included “screening and evaluation of employees, physicians, vendors, etc.” as part of the seven elements of an effective compliance plan. The OIG views screening as an important step to mitigate risk.

Additional Consideration #3: Exclusions show up on different lists at different times. And sometimes not on lists you expect.

When states take an exclusion action they are supposed to report it to other states and the OIG so they can be added to other lists. However, it doesn’t always happen. Even the OIG/LEIE, the biggest list of them all, doesn’t have all exclusion records. It is important to remember that as public knowledge, a provider is presumed to know if any employees or contractors are on ANY of the exclusion lists. Screening only the OIG/LEIE is not enough and will not shield a practice from liability. 

Additional Consideration #4: Can Failure to Screen be Excused?

Imagine this, an accident or incident resulting in patient harm or financial loss to the practice occurs and the harm was caused by or related to an employee on one of the exclusion list. A judge or jury would have no sympathy for the practice that failed to screen. There is no excuse not to screen all State and Federal exclusion lists. 

Final Thoughts

Screening the OIG-LEIE, GSA-SAM, and the 41 State exclusion lists is not only good business practice, it is essential to protecting your organization from legal implications. At Exclusion Screening, LLC. we provide a simple, automated, and cost-effective solution to the complexity of monthly screening of over 40 exclusion lists. We use the sophisticated algorithms in our SAFER system to screen all lists, including variations of individual names, to ensure your organization complies with exclusion screening obligations.

Call 1-800-294-0952 or fill out the form below to discuss your exclusion screening needs and a free assessment.




 

Current States With Separate Exclusion Databases



I. Medicaid Exclusion

Exclusion Screening, LLC conducts monthly checks of our clients’ employees, contractors, and vendors against the OIG-LEIE, GSA-SAM, and all available State Exclusion Lists. Most providers understand that they have an obligation to check their employees, contractors, and vendors against the OIG-LEIE prior to hiring and monthly thereafter. Fewer providers are aware of their obligation to screen their individual state exclusion list, if their state maintains such a list.

CMS directed state Medicaid Directors to remind all providers that they have an obligation to search their state list whenever they search the LEIE.[1] In addition, many states require providers when they enroll or re-enroll in the Medicaid program to certify that no employee or contractor is excluded from participation in any state. This requirement echoes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Section 6501, which states that if a provider is excluded in one state, he or she is excluded in all fifty states.[2]

II.  SAFERTM 

Exclusion Screening, LLC’s proprietary database, SAFER (State and Federal Exclusion Registry), imports the most recent exclusion data from each state list constantly. We are also in regular contact with state Medicaid and Program Integrity Offices about their lists.

III. State Exclusion Lists

The states that currently maintain a separate excluded provider list are the following ones below, click on a state to learn more about its screening requirements: 

AlabamaIdahoMichiganNorth Carolina
AlaskaIllinoisMinnesotaNorth Dakota
ArizonaIndianaMississippiOhio
ArkansasIowaMissouriPennsylvania
CaliforniaKansasMontanaSouth Carolina
ColoradoKentuckyNebraskaTennessee
ConnecticutLouisianaNevadaTexas
FloridaMaineNew HampshireWashington
GeorgiaMarylandNew JerseyWashington DC
HawaiiMassachusettsNew YorkWest VirginiaWyoming

IV.  Some States Require Screening Extraneous Lists

In addition to these states’ excluded provider lists, many states also require providers to check other various Medicaid Exclusion databases. In Ohio, for example, providers must search the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Abuser Registry, the Ohio Auditor of State – Finding for Recovery Database, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Abuser Registry, Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, The National Plan and Provider Enumeration System, in addition to the LEIE, SAM, and Ohio Exclusion List.[3] New Jersey providers must check the LEIE, New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs licensure databases, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services licensure database, and the certified nurse aide and personal care assistant registry on a monthly basis.[4] 

For additional information visit “OIG Exclusion and State Exclusion Lists: Which Exclusion Lists Need to Be Screened? What Is the Difference Between Them?”
V.  A Simple and Affordable Solution

Without a doubt, state and federal exclusion screening requirements are incredibly burdensome for most providers. If screening your employees against each federal and state list that your state requires is not cost effective for your office to do in-house, contact Exclusion Screening, LLC today at 1-800-294-0952 or fill out our online service form found below. We would be happy to discuss your specific state obligations, provide a cost assessment, and help you create your employee and vendor list.



Medicaid oig Exclusion

Ashley Hudson, Associate Attorney at Liles Parker, LLP and former Chief Operating Officer for Exclusion Screening, LLC, is the author of this article.


[1] See Letter from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to State Medicaid Directors 5 (Jan. 16, 2009).

[2] See 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(39) (2012), available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ148/pdf/PLAW-111publ148.pdf (codifying the termination requirements of ACA § 6501); see also Letter from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), CPI-CMS Informational Bulletin, Affordable Care Act Program Integrity Provisions – Guidance to States — Section 6501 – Termination of Provider Participation under Medicaid if Terminated under Medicare or other State Plan (Jan. 20, 2012), available at http://downloads.cms.gov/cmsgov/archived-downloads/CMCSBulletins/downloads/6501-Term.pdf.

[3] See Ohio Admin. Code § 5160-1-17.8(c)(ii); Ohio Medicaid Provider Exclusion and Suspension List, Ohio Dep’t of Medicaid, http://medicaid.ohio.gov/PROVIDERS/EnrollmentandSupport/ProviderExclusionandSuspensionList.aspx (last accessed Jan. 22, 2015).

[4] Newsletter to All Providers, from the New Jersey Dep’t of Human Servs., et al., Excluded, Unlicensed or Uncertified Individuals or Entities (Oct. 2010).

What Medical Practices Need to Know About OIG Exclusion Screening

OIG Exclusion screening

By Paul Weidenfeld [1] The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has steadily increased its enforcement of OIG Exclusion Screening violations since the issuance of its Special Advisory stressing the effect of an OIG Exclusion in May, 2013. Among other things, they have created a special unit to focus specifically on  Civil Money Penalties (CMPs) (its favored enforcement tool), supported numerous prosecutions by both its Office of Audit and its Office of Evaluations and Inspections, and sought greater regulatory authority from Congress. This article was originally directed (and is still intended) to give a basic tutorial on what an exclusion is, how it effects them, and what they can do to protect themselves.

I.  What is an OIG Exclusion?

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for administering the Medicare and Medicaid Programs and it decides who may receive benefits under these programs as well as who will be allowed to provide them. When it is determined that a person or entity will not be permitted to provide services to the program, that person or entity is said to be “excluded.” The authority to exclude individuals and entities from Federal health care programs has been delegated by the Secretary of HHS to the OIG.[2]

There are two types of OIG exclusions, mandatory and permissive, and both have the effect of barring an individual or entity from participating in all Federal health care programs until such time, if ever, that their privilege has been reinstated.[3]  Mandatory exclusions last a minimum of 5 years and must be imposed if a person or entity is convicted of certain criminal offenses. These include, among others, offenses related to defrauding Federal or State health care programs, felony convictions for other health care related offenses, most drug related felony convictions, and patient abuse or neglect.

Permissive exclusion authority implicates a much wider range of conduct. The type of conduct for which permissive exclusions may be imposed include misdemeanor convictions related to defrauding health care fraud programs; drug related misdemeanors; suspension, revocation or surrender of a health care license based on competence, performance, or financial integrity; providing unnecessary or substandard services; submitting false claims; defaulting on health education loans or student loans, and so on.

II.  What is the Impact of an OIG Exclusion?

The impact of an OIG exclusion extends to any provider who employs or contracts with the excluded person or entity. The regulation that grants OIG the exclusion authority states that payments cannot be made for items or services furnished “by an excluded individual or entity, or at the medical direction or on the prescription of a physician or other authorized individual who is excluded when the person furnishing such item or service knew or had reason to know of the exclusion.” 42 CFR § 1001.1901(b)

Though the language of the regulation appears to be directed at excluded persons who provide direct, billable services, the OIG broadly interprets the regulation to create a “payment prohibition” that includes virtually any item or service performed by an excluded person that contributes to any claim for reimbursement from any Federal or State Health Care Program.[4] For example, the OIG considers the preparation of a surgical tray or the inputting of information into a computer by an excluded person in violation of the prohibition. Similarly, administrative and management services, IT support, and even strategic planning would also be problematic. Even an excluded volunteer’s assistance might trigger the prohibition unless his activities were “wholly unrelated to Federal health care programs.”[5]

As indicated earlier, the favored enforcement tool is the imposition of civil penalties pursuant to 42 CFR §1003.102(a)(2). Though this regulation also appears to be restrictive in nature,[6]  the OIG interprets it to authorize CMPs for the failure of providers to screen their employees, vendors and contractors for exclusions. In its view, any time an “excluded person participates in any way in the furnishing of items or services that are payable by a Federal health care program,” [7] a  employer/provider that fails to screen will be held to have “known” — or “should have known” — of the exclusion.[8]

III.  OIG Exclusion Screening Requirements

Federal screening requirements are contained in the May, 2013 Special Advisory Bulletin.[9] The Advisory Bulletin states that in order for a provider to “avoid potential CMP liability,” they must check the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) to “determine the exclusion status” of their current employees, vendors and contractors. This can be done, according to the Bulletin’s guidance, by reviewing “each job category or contractual relationship to determine whether the item or service being provided is directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, payable by a Federal health care program,” and then “screen everyone that perform[s] under that contract or in that job category.[10] 

While the OIG concedes that it does not have the authority to require that screening be performed every 30 days, it makes it clear that providers who fail to screen their employees, contractors, or vendors monthly risk the imposition of CMPs and overpayment liability. In addition, the OIG observes that the LEIE is updated on a monthly basis, that CMS mandated monthly screening for all State Medicaid Units in 2009 and 2011, and it requires monthly screening in all of its corporate integrity agreements.

IV. Are the OIG Exclusion Screening Requirements Difficult to Meet?

The logistics of the screening process are extremely challenging for most providers despite the fact that the LEIE is a “searchable and downloadable database that can assist in identifying excluded employees.”[11]  Providers can elect to use the “search function” of the LEIE, but can only screen five employees at a time and each name must be entered manually. In addition, potential matches can only be verified individually by entering the social security number. This may work well if a provider only has to screen a handful of employees or contractors, but how would this work out if a provider has 200, 2,000, or even 20,000 employees?

The alternative, downloading the LEIE database and comparing the employee list to it, is equally problematic. Most providers simply do not have the capability to download the LEIE (which contains almost 60,000 names) and compare it with their own employee database in any reliable, or economically viable way. Another issue is the requirement that providers apply the same standard to contractors and sub-contractors as to their own employees. Contractors are unlikely to want to share their employee lists, and a provider would not want to screen the employee list of a large contractor. While the OIG does seem to recognize the issue by suggesting that providers can “choose to rely [on] screening conducted by the contractor,” it immediately follows the suggestion by reminding providers that they remain responsible for both overpayment liability and CMPs if they fail to ensure that “appropriate exclusion screening” has been conducted.[12]

V.  State OIG Exclusion Screening Requirements

It is important to remember that the OIG’s guidance addresses only federal concerns. While the OIG may be satisfied with just screening the LEIE on a  “regular” basis, there are only a handful of State Medicaid Programs that would find that this satisfied their requirements. Indeed, most States require, at a minimum, that providers screen their State Exclusion List (37 States have them) in addition to the LEIE, and many also require screening of the GSA/SAM[13] and/or other State specific exclusions lists (such as sex offender lists, elder abuse lists, etc.).

States also commonly include additional screening requirements through their provider agreements — some of which can be quite onerous. For example, in some States, applicants are required to certify that no employees or contractors are “suspended, or excluded from Medicare, Medicaid or other Health Care Program in any state”.[14] Additionally, State exclusion lists have a wide range of formats that vary from excel spreadsheets to unsearchable PDF documents further adding to the problems with screening.

For additional information refer to OIG Exclusion and State Exclusion Lists: Which Exclusion Lists Need to Be Screened? What Is the Difference Between Them?

VI.  Outsourcing of OIG Exclusion Screening is a Simple, and Affordable Solution

Exclusion Screening, LLC was created because we recognized the difficulties providers faced when seeking to comply with their exclusion screening obligations.  We were determined to provide a simple, cost-effective solution to the problem and we feel strongly that we accomplished our goal.  

Exclusion Screening is simple (we do all the work), cost-effective (likely to cost less than the monthly cost of the water delivered to your office), and best of all, it is a complete solution to your screening needs. Call or email me if you have any questions at: pweidenfeld@exclusionscreening.com or 1-800-294-0952.

Want to know more about Exclusion Screening or need help with understanding your requirements? Fill out the form below!



 

OIG Exclusion screening 

Paul Weidenfeld, Co-Founder and CEO of Exclusion Screening, LLC, is the author of this article. He is a longtime health care lawyer whose practice has focused on False Claims Act cases and health care fraud matters generally. 


[1] This is an update of an article that was first published in by the National Alliance of Medical Auditing Specialists (NAMAS) and posted on this website in November, 2014. It was done with the assistance of Jonathan Culpepper.

[2] Sections 1128 and 1156 of the Social Security Act. Though loosely defined to include any program that provides any health benefits, the most significant of these programs are Medicare and TRICARE. Medicaid exclusions are left to the State Fraud Control Units.

[3] Mandatory exclusions are found at 42 USC § 1320a-7; permissive exclusions at 42 USC § 1320a-7(b).

[4] The Special Advisory Bulletin on the Effect of Exclusion from Participation in Federal Health Care Programs issued May, 8, 2013 replaced and superseded the 1999 Bulletin and states: “This payment prohibition applies to all methods of Federal health care program payment, whether from itemized claims, cost reports, fee schedules, capitated payments, a prospective payment system or other bundled payment, or other payment system and applies even if the payment is made to a State agency or a person that is not excluded (at page 6 of the Bulletin).

[5] These are examples taken from the Special Advisory Bulletin, id.

[6] The regulation seems to be explaining the circumstances under which CMPs are available, not extending them stating that they may be assessed where a person making a claim stating: “knew, or should have known, that the claim was false or fraudulent, including a claim for any item or service furnished by an excluded individual employed by or otherwise under contract with that person.”

[7] Id. at 11.

[8] This is the language that appears in the OIG press releases announcing settlements of exclusion violations.

[9] Special Advisory Bulletin, at 13-18.

[10] Id. at 15-16.

[11] Id. at 14.

[12] Id. at 16.

[13] The System for Award Management (SAM) is the Official U.S. Government system that consolidated the capabilities of the CCR/FedReg, ORCA, and EPLS which were pre-existing debarment databases.

[14] See, for example, Rule § 352.5 of the Texas Administrative Code which specifically requires such a certification and the Louisiana Medicaid Provider Agreement.