HHS' inspector general's office plans to examine CMS oversight of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, issue new "safe harbor" exemptions to antikickback laws and revise guidance for hospital compliance programs, according to the office's 2004 work plan. "Because the Joint Commission accredits 80% of the 6,200 hospitals that participate in Medicare, its performance is critical to effective quality oversight," the work plan stated. Other areas of scrutiny include billing for deceased Medicare beneficiaries, coronary artery stents and emergency room diagnostic services. The office also will review how hospitals spend some $6 billion in inpatient capital payments received from Medicare annually. Kevin McAnaney, who formerly headed industry guidance for the inspector general's office, said the work plan indicates the office's changing priorities, such as this year's addition of stents. "Frequently things mentioned here later develop into enforcement initiatives," said McAnaney, now in private practice in Washington. Read the work plan. -- by Mark Taylor
JCAHO, safe harbors on inspector general's slate
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