Medicare improperly paid for $580M in psychotherapy services, OIG audit finds

Medicare improperly paid for over half a billion dollars in psychotherapy services, including telehealth, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, an audit from HHS' Office of Inspector General found. 

Between 2020 and 2021, the OIG estimated Medicare made $580 million in improper payments for psychotherapy services, $348 million of those from telehealth services, according to an audit published May 2. 

These improper payments were made to providers who did not follow Medicare guidance for documentation. 

The OIG recommended that CMS work with providers to recover $35,560 in improper payments uncovered in the audit sample. The watchdog also recommended CMS edit systems to prevent payments for improperly billed services and improve education for providers about billing requirements. 

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