Improper billing for electro-acupuncture using a “P-Stim” device (or peri-auricular stimulation device) has been the subject of two False Claims Act (FCA) settlements already in 2021, following a trend of such enforcement actions within the past year. And there are more to come.
These prosecutions involve providers billing federal healthcare programs for acupuncture using P-Stim devices under HCPCS Code L8649. Unlike P-Stim devices, though, which are attached to the ears of a patient using needles and adhesives without surgery or anesthesia, HCPSCS Code L8649 applies to a product that is surgically implanted into a patient using anesthesia. Medicare, TRICARE and the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) do not reimburse for acupuncture devices like P-Stim, nor do they reimburse for P-Stim as a neurostimulator or an implantation of neurostimulator electrodes. In addition to P-Stim, the brand names for these devices include ANSiStim, E-pulse, Stivax and NeuroStim.