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Federal District Court Overturns Part B Claim on Judicial Review

On May 29, 2012 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina overturned the Medicare Appeals Counsel’s (MAC’s) decision regarding one evaluation and management (E/M) service claim.

Six years earlier, a CMS Program Safeguard Contractor audited Dr. Ojebuoboh. It was determined that the government had overpaid Dr. Ojebuoboh approximately $179,000. Dr. Ojebuoboh contested the overpayment through the five-step Medicare appeals process. Before the matter reached federal district court, the physician had managed to reduce the overpayment amount to $12,000.

On appeal to federal district court, Dr. Ojebuoboh argued, among other things, that the MAC reached the wrong decision as to services provided for three beneficiaries: WB, MT, and OW. At this stage, Dr. Ojebuoboh had the right to judicial review of specific claims, however; in order to overturn the prior holding he had to prove that the MAC’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. This is a difficult standard to prove as it presumes that the MAC’s decision is correct. The federal district court determined that the MAC must explain its reasons for denying the claims, yet; it need not thoroughly detail every element of every component.

This case demonstrates the lengthiness of the Medicare appeals process and the deference afforded to the Secretary of HHS’s decision (issued through the MAC) at the federal court level of appeal. . If you need assistance appealing a Medicare audit determination please contact an experienced healthcare attorney at Wachler & Associates (248-544-0888).

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