Hospital lobbying groups are pushing for Congress to pass the Medicare Audit Improvement Act of 2013, which would put a cap on the amount of document requests that Recovery Audit Contractors (RAC) may demand from providers. Specifically, the bill would limit RAC document requests to 2% of hospital claims and a maximum of 500 additional document requests over 45 days.
The legislation was introduced in the House on March 19, 2013 by Representatives Sam Graves (R-MO) and Adam Schiff (D-CA); and was introduced two months later in the Senate by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Mark Pryor (D-AK). On March 19, 2013, Graves stated in a press release that “[d]octors and nurses should be focused on caring for patients, not trying to comply with the ever-increasing requests for documents.” Graves also stated that small, rural hospitals will benefit from this new legislation the most, since they are often ill-equipped to handle extensive document requests.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) endorsed both bills, and since the new year, has spent $4.3 million thus far in lobbying efforts. In addition, the Federation of American Hospitals and six state hospital associations also joined the AHA in its lobbying efforts. Despite this significant lobbying, neither bill has gained momentum. The same bill was also introduced last year by Graves, but failed to move out of committee. A spokeswoman for the AHA stated that the House bill was not expected to move soon. As a result, lobbying efforts have been placed on increasing the number of co-sponsors of the bill. Last year, only 26 members of Congress co-sponsored the bill, whereas the current legislation has 70 co-sponsors.
The passage of the Medicare Audit Improvement Act of 2013 would be very beneficial to hospitals, particularly small hospitals that struggle with the administrative burdens RAC audits create. However, a thorough compliance plan is essential for a hospital seeking to decrease the risk of receiving an audit as well as dealing with audits successfully and efficiently. If you or your healthcare entity need assistance in developing an effective compliance plan, or assistance in Medicare, Medicaid or third party payor audit defense, please contact our experienced healthcare attorneys at 248-544-0888.