On September 28, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced that it intends to reopen the hospital inpatient status settlement that was initially released in 2014. CMS’ announcement means that eligible providers will be able to to settle their inpatient status claims currently pending appeal. While specific details of the settlement have yet to be released, if the upcoming program has terms similar to CMS’ 2014 68% settlement, it may provide a viable opportunity for eligible providers to resolve their pending appeals without enduring the delay for an administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing due to the appeals backlog.
CMS’ decision to reopen the settlement is the result of the efforts from several actors including the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA), American Hospital Association, RAC Monitor, Steven Greenspan of Optum Executive Health Resources, and Wachler & Associates, P.C. Specifically, OMHA participated in communications with CMS and supported the proposal for CMS to reopen the 68% settlement. In addition, the American Hospital Association’s (“AHA”) lawsuit challenging the excessive appeals backlog that has resulted in delays of over two years past the statutory requirement is likely an important factor in CMS’ decision to reopen the appeals backlog.
Furthermore, the combined efforts of RAC Monitor, Steven Greenspan, and Andrew Wachler of Wachler & Associates, P.C. also likely aided in the reopening. RAC Monitor provided a platform for Steven Greenspan and Andrew Wachler to present the concept of reopening the appeals settlement to RAC Monitor listeners and RAC Monitor listeners responded in full force. Through these combined efforts, it is hoped that the reopened appeals settlement will help to clear the appeals backlog of the approximately 200,000 inpatient site of service pending of appeals. Although this solution will not completely eliminate the backlog, it can assist hospitals that chose not to participate in the original settlement and hopefully help other non-eligible providers move through the appeals process at a slightly more efficient rate.