HHS' inspector general's office last week issued draft compliance guidelines for physicians in solo or small group practices, calling the document "preventive medicine" against billing errors and fraud.
The 43-page set of guidelines, scheduled for publication in the June 12 Federal Register, applies to all federal health programs.
The guidelines are voluntary, but the inspector general recommends that they be followed. A final set of guidelines is expected this fall, said D. McCarty Thornton, the inspector general's chief counsel.
Similar guidelines have been issued at the industry's request for clinical laboratories, durable medical equipment suppliers, home health agencies, hospices, hospitals, Medicare managed-care plans, nursing facilities and third-party billing companies.
The Denver-based Medical Group Management Association, which represents more than 7,100 healthcare organizations, said in a written statement that the guidelines address many but not all of the association's concerns.