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Government Accountability Office (GAO) Recommends Post-Payment Reviews to Focus on Home Health and Durable Medical Equipment

The Director of Health Care for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Kathleen M. King, recently testified before the Subcommittees on Health and Oversight, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives. An important component of her testimony included a recommendation that Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) should focus their post-payment review activities on home health and durable medical equipment providers.

Ms. King reported in her testimony that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates improper payments for Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reached $24.1 billion for calendar year 2009. However, Ms. King emphasized that this may not be the full figure, and identified challenges to and strategies for preventing fraud, waste, and abuse and to reduce improper payments. The GAO identified five strategies to help CMS address these challenges. The strategies are: (1) strengthening provider enrollment processes and standards, (2) improving pre-payment review of claims, (3) focusing post-payment claims review on most vulnerable areas, (4) improving oversight of contractors, and (5) developing a robust process for addressing identified vulnerabilities.

Ms. King also discussed the future strategy for RACs. She stated that since RACs are paid on a contingent fee basis, they often focus their post-payment reviews on health provider with expensive claims. However, the GAO recommends that RACs focus their post-payment review activities on items and services where RACs are not expected, specifically home health and durable medical equipment.

If you need assistance with a RAC or third party payor audit or for more information, please visit www.racattorneys.com or contact a Wachler & Associates attorney at 248-544-0888.