Personal Care Agency Structure Can Increase Risk and Government Scrutiny
The OIG recently released a review of Medicaid Fraud Control Unit activities which identified personal care agencies as accounting for nearly one-third of fraud prosecutions. Previous blogs identified a number of compliance risks that often ensnare agencies. Risk can also be impacted by the structure and nature of the business that is conducted by the agency. The business might be perfectly legal, but can still create additional risk.
An good example involves personal care agencies that focus on recruiting patients with extended families who already reside with the patient. A personal care business plan that focuses on training extended family might be technically legal, but can certainly present risk that a reviewer will more closely scrutinize record-keeping, PCW training, and other requirements. Closer scrutiny may result in overpayment requests and/or investigation.
The normal business plan for a personal care agency involves the hiring and training of personal care worker who are assigned to clients who retain the agency’s services. Normally, a PCW and a client do not know each other and certainly are not sharing a residence with the client. Some agencies might focus their business on recruitment of patients who live with extended family. Simply by providing training to the existing family member, the agency is able to generate reimbursement. The extended family member is able to earn a wage for the service that it performed.
Immediate family will normally not qualify to generate reimbursement as a personal care work. More distant family might be able to generate reimbursement. There may be nothing specific in the laws of the applicable state that prohibits this type of arrangement. At the same time, there is nothing prohibiting a regulator from more closely scrutinizing regulatory requirements when presented with agencies that may be technically legal but could be viewed as being abusive at their core.
The main point here is that business structure and other factors might present additional levels of risk to an agency. Business structure should be considered as a factor when conducting risk analysis. Businesses that are operated in technical compliance could present higher degrees of risk than more traditional business structures.
Source: Health Law Blog