Healthcare Business News

Officials inspect comprehensive outpatient rehab sites in Florida; many not operational

By Joe Carlson
Posted: November 28, 2011 - 12:01 am ET

South Florida is home to a disproportionate number of comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities (CORFs), and a review has found that nearly 20% of them were not operational despite receiving more than $2 million in Medicare payments, a new review says (PDF).

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The HHS office of inspector general inspected all 101 CORFs in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and found 10 of them did not appear to maintain businesses at their official addresses, while another eight were not open during business hours. Those 18 facilities received $2.2 million in Medicare reimbursements in 2010, including $450,000 that came after OIG flagged them as suspicious.

Five more of the facilities were closed during an initial inspector but open during follow-up reviews, indicating operators may have become aware of the ongoing investigation and opened their offices, OIG officials wrote.

Separately, the CMS conducted its own unannounced site visits at South Florida CORFs and found similar results, though inspector general reviewers criticized the slow pace of some of the remedial actions.

A CORF is required to offer physician services, physical therapy, and social or psychological treatments, and may also offer other therapies, most of which have to be performed at the facilities' physical locations. Of the $70 million in CORF services paid for by Medicare nationally in 2010, $22 million went to services in South Florida, even though past OIG reviews found the region vulnerable to fraud and abuse.

Responding to OIG's concerns, officials at the CMS said they will increase the number of unannounced site visits to South Florida CORFs, and will continue to impose administrative remedies when needed, like revocations of Medicare eligibility and pre-payment review of reimbursements.

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