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While the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs had anticipated no additional risks associated with telehealth services during the pandemic compared with in-person visits, its Office of Inspector General found some potential program integrity risks, according to a report released Wednesday.
The risks included providers potentially billing for supplies not rendered and unnecessary medical services, treating claimants without required supervision, and billing without appropriate billing codes, the report said.
In line with a national trend, the federal program saw a dramatic increase in telehealth services during the pandemic: claimants used about 58,000 telemedicine services between March 2020 and February 2021, compared with 1,700 telehealth services used between March 2019 and February 2020, the report said.
Most of the telemedicine services were for primary care provider and specialist appointments and behavioral health services, according to the report.
The OIG encouraged the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to develop additional guidance for providers to ensure the development of proper telehealth modifier codes used in medical billing.