(a) Establishment of program
(1) In general
Not later than January 1, 1997, the Secretary, acting through the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Attorney General shall establish a program--
(A) to coordinate Federal, State, and local law enforcement programs to control fraud and abuse with respect to health plans,
(B) to conduct investigations, audits, evaluations, and inspections relating to the delivery of and payment for health care in the United States,
(D) to provide for the modification and establishment of safe harbors and to issue advisory opinions and special fraud alerts pursuant to section 1320a-7d of this title.
(2) Coordination with health plans
In carrying out the program established under paragraph (1), the Secretary and the Attorney General shall consult with, and arrange for the sharing of data with representatives of health plans.
(A) In general
The Secretary and the Attorney General shall issue guidelines to carry out the program under paragraph (1). The provisions of sections 553 , 556 , and 557 of Title 5 shall not apply in the issuance of such guidelines.
(B) Information guidelines
(i) In general
Such guidelines shall include guidelines relating to the furnishing of information by health plans, providers, and others to enable the Secretary and the Attorney General to carry out the program (including coordination with health plans under paragraph (2)).
Such guidelines shall include procedures to assure that such information is provided and utilized in a manner that appropriately protects the confidentiality of the information and the privacy of individuals receiving health care services and items.
(iii) Qualified immunity for providing information
The provisions of section 1320c-6(a) of this title (relating to limitation on liability) shall apply to a person providing information to the Secretary or the Attorney General in conjunction with their performance of duties under this section.
(4) Ensuring access to documentation
The Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services is authorized to exercise such authority described in paragraphs (3) through (9) of section 6 of the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C.App.) as necessary with respect to the activities under the fraud and abuse control program established under this subsection.
(5) Authority of Inspector General
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to diminish the authority of any Inspector General, including such authority as provided in the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C.App.).
(b) Additional use of funds by Inspector General
(1) Reimbursements for investigations
The Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services is authorized to receive and retain for current use reimbursement for the costs of conducting investigations and audits and for monitoring compliance plans when such costs are ordered by a court, voluntarily agreed to by the payor, or otherwise.
Funds received by the Inspector General under paragraph (1) as reimbursement for costs of conducting investigations shall be deposited to the credit of the appropriation from which initially paid, or to appropriations for similar purposes currently available at the time of deposit, and shall remain available for obligation for 1 year from the date of the deposit of such funds.
(c) “Health plan” defined
For purposes of this section, the term “health plan” means a plan or program that provides health benefits, whether directly, through insurance, or otherwise, and includes--
(1) a policy of health insurance;
(2) a contract of a service benefit organization; and
(3) a membership agreement with a health maintenance organization or other prepaid health plan.
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