CMS Moves Closer to Fingerprint Background Checks in Home Health

Three years following a final rule that will allow for fingerprinting of workers—a measure targeting Medicare fraud—the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is finally making plans to contract with a company to conduct the background checks, according to a Modern Healthcare report.

The fingerprint screening is one of several mechanisms now allowed by the Department of Health and Human Services to help combat fraud among providers reimbursed by Medicaid.

CMS categorized providers based on level of risk, with the riskiest providers subject to the additional screening, Modern Healthcare writes. Those companies include executives who have at least 5% ownership—direct or indirect—in home healthcare agencies and durable medical equipment providers that have recently enrolled in the Medicare program.

The new measure will apply to many home health and DME agencies, but businesses told Modern Healthcare the scrutiny is a welcome effort that will cut down on fraud and improve the industry overall. The timing of the movement on the contract is unclear.

“It’s unclear why the CMS has waited three years to implement the provision,” Modern Healthcare writes. “An agency spokesman would say only that the agency “was not prepared at the time of the final rule’s effective date.” He added that fingerprinting won’t begin until two months after the CMS releases additional guidance on the issue, and he did not say when that would be.”

Read the Modern Healthcare report.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker