Mobile Clinic Compliance and Defense
Mobile clinics serve an essential function by providing necessary care to patients in rural and other underserved communities. However, this does not protect them against scrutiny from federal authorities.
Mobile clinics allow health care providers to provide essential services to rural patients who might not otherwise be able to get the care they need. Recent advances in technology have made the operation of mobile clinics a viable option in many communities, and access to mobile health care has significantly improved the lives of many people suffering from illnesses, diseases, disabling injuries, and drug addiction. Family medicine practitioners are now able to access patients in underserved areas as well, providing essential preventative care and treatment to adults and children who might otherwise go years without seeing a health care professional.
But, despite the virtues of mobile clinics, mobile clinic operators and physicians who practice in mobile clinics have not escaped the federal microscope. To the contrary, many federal authorities are specifically targeting mobile clinics (among other health care providers) in compliance audits and investigations. Like all health care providers, mobile clinics are subject to a host of legal and regulatory obligations, and those that fail to establish and maintain compliance can face steep consequences.
Federal Compliance and Defense Counsel for Mobile Clinics
At Oberheiden P.C., we provide full-service compliance and defense representation to mobile clinics nationwide. Many of our lawyers are former federal prosecutors responsible for enforcing the nation’s health care laws, and our compliance consultants are former high-ranking agents with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and other federal agencies. We assist our clients with all aspects of federal health care law compliance, and we serve as defense counsel for HHS-OIG, DEA, and other federal agency audits, inspections, and investigations as well.
Our experience encompasses representing virtually all types of health care providers in all aspects of legal and regulatory compliance. We have helped thousands of providers across the country establish compliance, maintain compliance, and avoid unwanted scrutiny. We also have an extensive track record of successfully defending health care providers during federal inquiries, and the majority of our clients have been able to avoid charges entirely. We offer our federal compliance and defense services to mobile clinics including (but not limited to):
- Mobile addiction treatment clinics
- Mobile cardiology clinics
- Mobile family medicine clinics
- Mobile health clinics
- Mobile wellness clinics
Federal Health Care Compliance for Mobile Clinics
There are numerous aspects to federal health care compliance for mobile clinics and other health care providers. At Oberheiden P.C., we offer custom-tailored compliance solutions—including solutions that are tailored specifically to the unique needs of mobile clinics. This includes needs in the areas of:
Anti-Kickback Statute, Stark Law, and EKRA Compliance
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law, as well as the newer Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (EKRA), prohibit mobile clinics and physicians from entering into financial relationships that result in the payment of unlawful referral fees and other forms of “remuneration.” While these statutes’ prohibitions are not absolute, they outlaw many types of financial relationships and transactions that are relatively common within the health care sector.
Billing compliance is essential for all types of mobile clinics. This includes both billing compliance with respect to private insurance and billing compliance with respect to Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health care benefit programs. Even inadvertent billing mistakes can subject mobile clinics to steep penalties, and mobile clinics must be extremely careful to use the correct billing codes along with maintaining clear documentation of medical necessity.
For mobile addiction treatment clinics and other mobile clinics that prescribe and administer medications, DEA compliance is a critical component of an overall compliance program. Our lawyers and consultants – who include former DEA agents – are knowledgeable about all of the various nuanced and complex aspects of compliance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and pertinent DEA regulations.
Licensing and Registration Compliance
One key aspect of DEA compliance is adhering to the rules and requirements for DEA registration. We assist mobile clients with obtaining and protecting their DEA registrations, and we assist our clients with other licensing and registration matters as well. In addition to matters at the federal level, this includes providing professional license defense for physicians and other practicing providers.
Telemedicine and Telehealth Compliance
By the nature of mobile treatment services, many mobile clinics offer telemedicine and telehealth services as well. This is a heavily-regulated area of health care practice that is subject to strict oversight, and mobile clinics must be absolutely certain that their telemedicine and telehealth practices are legally compliant.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to new and unprecedented compliance concerns – and fraud risks – for mobile clinics and other health care providers. At Oberheiden P.C., we have been advising clients on COVID-19 compliance since the start of the pandemic, and we are continuing to help our clients establish compliance and avoid fraud allegations on an ongoing basis.
Federal Health Care Fraud Defense for Mobile Clinics
In addition to representing mobile clinics with regard to health care law compliance, we also serve as defense counsel for mobile clinics that are facing allegations of federal health care fraud. This includes fraud allegations of all forms, from inadvertent billing mistakes to providing unnecessary prescriptions and engaging in prohibited financial transactions.
Our federal health care fraud defense lawyers represent mobile clinics in audits, inspections, and investigations conducted by all federal agencies. This includes, but is not limited to, HHS-OIG, the DEA, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). As noted above, we provide defense representation for licensing and registration matters as well, and our federal defense lawyers are licensed to practice before federal district courts across the country.
FAQs: Avoiding (or Defending Against) Federal Fraud Allegations for Mobile Clinics
Q: Do all mobile clinics need to have comprehensive health care compliance programs?
Yes, comprehensive compliance is essential for all types of health care providers, including all types of mobile clinics. Federal authorities expect health care providers to proactively address their compliance obligations, and those that do not can face substantial penalties. Once a compliance program has been established, the compliance program must be thoroughly implemented, and mobile clinics must continue to monitor their compliance efforts and reassess their compliance needs on an ongoing basis.
Q: What does a comprehensive health care compliance program entail?
In order to be sufficiently comprehensive, a compliance program must address all aspects of federal health care law compliance—including billing, anti-kickback, and DEA compliance, among other areas. Crucially, mobile clinics’ compliance programs must be custom-tailored to their specific needs, and they must thoroughly address all areas of concern.
Q: What should I do if my mobile clinic is not fully compliant with all federal health care laws and regulations?
If your mobile clinic is not currently compliant (or if you are not sure whether your mobile clinic is fully compliant), it will be important for you to engage federal health care compliance counsel promptly. Non-compliance is a serious issue; and, if your mobile clinic is targeted in a federal audit, inspection, or investigation, the consequences could be severe.
When faced with past or ongoing compliance violations, a proactive approach is generally best. However, it is also necessary to proceed carefully. While it may be necessary to voluntarily disclose known compliance failures, any voluntary disclosure needs to be made very carefully and with a clear plan for coming into full compliance.
Q: What are the risks of federal non-compliance for mobile clinics?
The risks of federal non-compliance for mobile clinics can include fines, recoupments, denial of pending claims, pre-payment review, loss of eligibility, and other financial penalties. If your mobile clinic is accused of criminal health care fraud, then federal prison time could be on the table as well. Mobile clinics need to prioritize compliance—and they need to do so before their compliance efforts are called into question by federal authorities.
Q: As a mobile clinic operator or physician, what should I do if I have been contacted by HHS-OIG, the DEA, or another federal agency?
If you own or operate a mobile clinic and you have been contacted by HHS-OIG, the DEA, or another federal agency, you will need to engage experienced federal defense counsel promptly. You do not have time to wait, as you will need to execute a proactive defense strategy in order to mitigate your risk of facing federal charges. At Oberheiden P.C., our federal health care fraud defense lawyers have deep experience in audits, inspections, and investigations involving all major federal law enforcement agencies, and we can get to work defending you and your mobile clinic right away.
Speak with a Senior Attorney or Consultant at Oberheiden P.C. about Mobile Clinic Compliance or Defense
Do you have questions or concerns about your mobile clinic’s compliance efforts? If so, we encourage you to contact us 24/7. To speak with a senior attorney or compliance consultant at Oberheiden P.C. in confidence, call 888-680-1745 or inquire online now.