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AHA Sends Letter to OIG Urging Contractor Reform

The American Hospital Association (AHA) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson on October 24, 2012, urging the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to focus on inappropriate claim denials by Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs). The letter stresses that RAC effectiveness needs to be evaluated and integrity programs need to be streamlined.

According to the AHA’s RACTrac survey data, seventy-five percent of appealed RAC denials are reversed. The AHA asserts that because the RACs are paid on a contingency fee basis, there is a strong financial incentive to deny more claims and increase contingency payments. The implication is that RACs are not monitored effectively and are thus allowed to inappropriately deny claims to increase contingency payments. The letter explicitly states that, “[d]enying payment for an entire inpatient stay is far more lucrative for the contractors than identifying an incorrect payment amount or an unnecessary medical service.”

The AHA further urges that more provider education is needed to improve the rates of payment errors. According to the RACTrac survey, more than half of the respondents indicated that they have received no education from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on avoiding payment errors. The letter stresses that program integrity could be strengthened with provider education.

If you have questions about CMS audits, or need assistance defending claims denied by a contractor, please contact an experienced Wachler & Associates healthcare attorney at 248-544-0888.

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