Telemedicine and telehealth services are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to facilitate treatment in a setting that is comfortable and convenient for both the patient and the physician. Unfortunately, the laws and regulations applicable to telemedicine have not kept pace with technology. The discrepancy between the technological capabilities now available to physicians and the laws governing use of those capabilities has become particularly evident in the treatment of federally-funded patients. This has created an environment of uncertainty and confusion for physicians, which has in turn led to an increase in law enforcement activity.
Issues Contributing to the Increase in Telemedicine Investigations
The regulatory landscape for telemedicine is exceedingly complex. The rules governing telemedicine differ from those applicable to traditional treatment, and they are not uniform across all jurisdictions. With respect to telemedicine services rendered to federally-funded patients, the federal government has cast an extremely wide net and is actively investigating physicians nationwide. For physicians without experienced legal representation, these investigations frequently lead to severe civil and criminal penalties.
In many cases, physicians get into telemedicine after being approached by marketing companies that offer a new source of income. This includes both newly-minted (and highly-indebted) physicians as well as seasoned physicians who have been weathering the decrease in reimbursements for core services. Physicians in both groups welcome the opportunity to treat new patients as offered by these marketing groups. Unfortunately, what they often do not realize is that telemedicine laws are very limiting, and violations can result in costly and sometimes practice-threatening federal investigations.
Why Is the Federal Government Investigating My Telemedicine Practice
There are several reasons why telemedicine providers often find themselves under the scrutiny of federal law enforcement agencies. Some of the most common examples include:
- Providing telehealth treatment sessions to federally-funded patients (e.g. those receiving Medicare, Tricare, and Department of Labor benefits) in violation of the applicable laws and regulations.
- Issuing prescriptions after telehealth treatment sessions that fall within the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
- Providing telemedicine services to patients who reside in a state where the physician is not licensed, or providing telemedicine consultations across state lines.
In many cases that our attorneys have handled, the physicians who we represented received patients from marketing companies and simply were not aware that there were federal funding or multi-state issues involved.
Experienced Attorneys for Telemedicine Investigations Nationwide
At The Criminal Defense Firm, we have broad experience representing physicians in telemedicine investigations, and our attorneys are among the country’s leading healthcare fraud defense lawyers. We are intimately familiar with all of the nuances of state and federal healthcare laws that have implications for telemedicine practitioners.
Unlike some “healthcare lawyers,” our healthcare fraud defense attorneys routinely represent clients in healthcare matters at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies. Our track record includes securing dozens of “no civil and no criminal liability” outcomes in healthcare fraud cases nationwide. Some examples of our experience include investigations and cases involving:
- Telemedicine and Prescription Practice
- Telemedicine and Compound Pharmacy Referrals
- Telemedicine and Anti-Kickback Issues
- Telemedicine and Stark Law Questions
- Telemedicine Defense (Department of Justice)
- Telemedicine Defense (FBI, OIG Investigations)
- Telemedicine Defense (U.S. Attorney’s Office)
- Telemedicine Defense (HEAT Task Force, Florida)
- Telemedicine Defense (Medicare Fraud Strike Force)
Many of our attorneys worked for the Department of Justice in critical healthcare law positions before joining our firm, and we rely upon their experience to provide the strongest possible defense for our clients. Along with Dr. Nick Oberheiden, our federal healthcare defense practice includes Lynette S. Byrd. As a former Assistant United States Attorney, Lynette has years of experience working in law. She focuses her practice on criminal and civil litigation, Medicare and insurance audits, and general advice and counseling within the realm of healthcare law. Clients of Attorney Byrd have great respect for her ability to merge her profound law understanding with her superb litigation skills.
Are You Being Investigated for Telemedicine Healthcare Fraud? Contact Us Today
If you are being investigated by the federal government for providing telemedicine consultations or telehealth services, you need to take your situation very seriously. At The Criminal Defense Firm, our experienced healthcare fraud defense lawyers will deal with the government’s investigators for you, and we can help you avoid making mistakes that could jeopardize your practice. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call 866-603-4540 or submit our online request form today. Weekend appointments are available.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden is a national litigation and trial criminal defense attorney who practices exclusively in the area of federal law.