When a Medicare contractor denies a claim, the provider generally has a right to a lengthy appeal process, which is both complex and contains many strict deadlines. In some circumstances, claims can take years to fully progress through the appeals process. However, some limited cases may be eligible for settlement depending on the circumstances at hand.
The federal agency that oversees Medicare, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), performs few audits itself. In most cases, they outsource these audits to a series of independent contractors, such as Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs), Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs), Unified Program Integrity Contractors (UPICs), and the Supplemental Medical Review Contractor (SRMC). Most audits are performed by these contractors, although they will often use CMS’s name or logo in their correspondence and may answer phone calls by saying that they are “with Medicare.”
A healthcare provider has options when responding to Medicare audits from the very beginning. Sometimes providers receive Additional Document Requests (ADRs) from the contractor demanding information or documentation to support the claims. These requests must be reviewed carefully. However, it is important to note that they often contain generic language that makes it difficult to determine which specific documents the contractor is requesting. Once the contractor reviews the additional documentation supplied, the contractor will issue its audit findings and determine whether to deny certain claims. Other times, the contractor will audit claims data or other information and issue audit findings without requesting additional information from the provider.