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Message from leadership on minimizing burdens on providers

March 30, 2020

Our agency knows that health care organizations and the dedicated professionals providing care to patients are facing extraordinary challenges in managing the coronavirus pandemic. We are inspired by the facilities and their staffs-the doctors, nurses, technicians, therapists, caregivers, and support teams-who are heroically serving our communities in this crisis.

For our part, OIG places a high priority on providing the health care community with the flexibility to provide needed care during this emergency. The delivery of patient care during this public health emergency must be the primary focus of the health care industry.

Given the challenges of this pandemic, we are coordinating closely with HHS, CMS, and our law enforcement partners to support the health care system's response to the pandemic and assist health care professionals striving to do the best they can for their patients. We are also aggressively investigating bad actors who are exploiting this crisis and preying on people's fears with fraudulent schemes to steal patients' personal information and hawk fake testing kits and unapproved therapies.

During this national emergency, OIG will be working hard to meet its mission while respecting the great challenges currently facing the health care industry. To the extent possible, we are trying to minimize burdens on providers and be flexible where we can. As we plan new work and continue ongoing oversight, we are taking into account burdens on providers and the safety of patients, the health care workforce, and our staff. Our Office of Audit Services has extensive experience planning and conducting audits that account for special rules, including rules in effect during emergencies. We use the rules in place from the Department when assessing compliance.

Health care organizations that need extensions of OIG deadlines, such as to produce data for an OIG review or to comply with a Corporate Integrity Agreement, are encouraged to ask their OIG contact. OIG will work with organizations on a reasonable solution.

For any conduct during this emergency that may be subject to OIG administrative enforcement, OIG will carefully consider the context and intent of the parties when assessing whether to proceed with any enforcement action.

Finally, please note that most of the OIG workforce is currently teleworking. We encourage electronic submissions of any materials that would ordinarily be mailed because mail service has been temporarily suspended. We have a dedicated COVID-19 Portal to which you can access from our homepage, with up to date information about our operations, contact information, and COVID-related work.

Christi A. Grimm, Principal Deputy Inspector General