CMS AB Demonstration Program: Hospitals' Participation in December 8 Open Door Forum

December 5, 2011

As discussed in earlier posts, hospitals that participate in CMS' upcoming Part A to Part B Rebilling Demonstration Program will be required to waive their right to appeal claims denied for lack of medical necessity for services provided in the inpatient setting. CMS' rationale for this "all or nothing" approach is the concern that a participating hospital could appeal the denial of the Part A inpatient claim and at the same time resubmit the claim for Part B reimbursement. As any participating provider that intentionally engages in that type of billing practice would expose themselves to liability for double-billing, it is unrealistic for CMS to anticipate that participation in the demonstration program would encourage this behavior. During the RAC demonstration programs, in which hospitals were afforded the flexibility denied to them for the AB demonstration program, there was no evidence that hospitals tried to "game" the system.

Further, despite CMS' overreaching concerns that hospitals will take advantage of a more flexible demonstration program that allowed case-by-case appeals, the agency's concerns do not extend to the likelihood that RACs will take advantage of the demonstration program's structure. CMS claims that the RACs will not know the hospitals that participate in the demonstration program, and therefore will not have an incentive to deny more claims from those hospitals knowing that they are immune from appeals. However, RACs will very likely know the participants because those hospitals will not submit appeals for the denied inpatient claims and the RACs will receive smaller contingency fees for those denied claims.

We strongly urge hospitals to participate in the CMS' December 8 special Open Door Forum (details below). During the Open Door Forum, hospitals should express their dismay with the current structure of the demonstration program, specifically the waiver of any appeal rights for denied inpatient claims. In addition, hospitals must incorporate into their RAC appeals process the effort to obtain Part B payment for inpatient services denied as not medically necessary. Only through a concerted effort by the hospital industry will we convince CMS to modify the current rebilling system.

For assistance with the appeals process, please visit www.racattorneys.com or contact a Wachler & Associates attorney at 248-544-0888.

CMS Special Open Door Forum for the Part A to Part B Rebilling Demonstration Program:  December 8, 2011 at 2pm-3:30pm ET. Dial: 1-866-501-5502 Reference Conference ID#: 28779067 (Please dial in at least 15 minutes prior to call start time)