The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced on August 2, 2019 that the agency is withdrawing two proposed rules that have been pending for several years. The first rule, originally proposed in 1994, would have allowed OIG to issue civil monetary penalties against hospitals if they knowingly make incentive payments to a provider to induce them to reduce the services they provide to Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries. The second rule, originally proposed in 2002, would have expanded an Anti-Kickback Statute safe harbor to allow waivers of cost-sharing amounts for Medicare Part A and Part B services for enrollees of Medicare SELECT policies.
HHS OIG has stated that the goal of withdrawing these rules is to comply with the Trump Administration’s directive to identify regulations that can be repealed, replaced, or modified. However, withdrawing these proposals suggests that these health care fraud and abuse issues are not enforcement priorities for the Administration. Aimed Alliance opposes the withdrawal of these proposed rules. The 1994 proposed rule would have addressed improper financial inducements that could reduce access to care for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Additionally, the 2002 proposed rule could reduce out-of-pocket costs for enrollees of Medicare SELECT plans. Both of these proposals should have been finalized instead of withdrawn because they would likely increase access to care and reduced health care costs for enrollees of public health plans.