Whether it's improper billing procedures or weight loss fraud, Medicaid investigations are hampered by a lack of "national-level, timely Medicaid data," he says. While the Medicare databases are efficient, Medicaid's Medicaid Statistical Information System (MSIS) is the only source of nationwide Medicaid claims, but it is typically 1½ years old when released by CMS to users for data analysis purposes, which renders it ineffective for investigative purposes. "In law enforcement, a 1½-year time lag is an eternity," Cantrell says.
Essentially, the OIG is waiting for CMS to get its act together.
In the meantime, Cantrell says he's hoping that providers and patients get more involved in thwarting fraud. The OIG's website offers a tip line for fraud cases. And the OIG recently published a white paper, A Roadmap for New Physicians: Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse.
This roadmap offers a journey worth taking, because the integrity of the profession is at a crossroads.