OIG Releases 2011 Workplan for Overseeing Recovery Act Funds, Including HIT Projects

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The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General Jan. 28 released its fiscal year 2011 workplan for assessing the appropriate use of funds provided to HHS by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

The OIG is planning to investigate a number of ARRA-funded projects, including a number surrounding the adoption of health information technology (HIT).

For example, the OIG expects to begin an investigation in the second quarter of 2011 to determine if HIT upgrades made to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services operational systems include standards adopted by HHS, as well as whether those upgrades are capable of protecting personal information. A report is expected by the first quarter of 2012.

The OIG will also examine the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs for providers that demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs), and will look to identify any payments made in error and ensure that controls are in place to minimize any future errors. Work on this project is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2011 and end by the fourth quarter of 2012.

Additional HIT investigations include:

• reviewing the progress states have made in setting up their Medicaid EHR incentive payment programs (report expected by fourth quarter of 2011);

•  reviewing how states are capturing meaningful use criteria for the Medicaid EHR incentive program, as well as tracking payments (report expected by second quarter of 2012;

• determining if planning activities for incentive payments are in compliance with requirements from Medicare, Medicaid, and ARRA (reports expected by third quarter of 2012);

• reviewing the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's (ONC) oversight of certification standards for EHR vendors (report expected by first quarter of 2012);

• determining whether proper security controls are in place for HIT standards developed by the ONC (report expected by second quarter of 2011); and

• determining whether regional extension centers provide sufficient security for providers (report expected by second quarter of 2012).


Additional Workplan Items.

The OIG will also be examining the Medicaid disproportionate share program.

ARRA provided additional funds for the program, which provides extra funding to hospitals that treat a large percentage of low-income patients. Specifically, the OIG will review whether disproportionate share expenditures were claimed according to Medicaid requirements. A report is expected by the third quarter of 2012.

An additional report will be available in the fourth quarter of 2011 that will review the accuracy of claims made by provider types that have a history of improper Medicaid payments.

Under ARRA, the OIG received $17 million to conduct oversight, plus an additional $31 million to ensure that new Medicaid expenditures were being properly used. Overall, HHS received $165 billion from ARRA.

OIG's funds are set to expire in FY 2012.

The 2011 workplan is available at http://oig.hhs.gov/recovery/updates/2011_HHS_OIG_Recovery_Act_Implementation_Work_Plan.pdf.