The Provider Reimbursement Review Board (“PRRB”) is an independent panel that a Part A provider can appeal to if it is not satisfied with any final determination. In order to appeal, the amount in controversy for a single hospital must be at least $10,000, and at least $50,000 for a group of hospitals. The PRRB’s decision is considered the final administrative remedy for providers. If a provider is dissatisfied with the PRRB decision, it can seek judicial review before a federal district court. Last month, the PRRB released 90 pages of updated rules without advanced notice, which providers and attorneys are expected to comply with in their appeals. These significant changes to the PRRB rules could be catastrophic for providers because they may waive their entire appeal if they fail to follow a new rule.
Hospitals tend to utilize the PRRB appeals process by challenging disproportionate-share hospital payment calculation, or by challenging the amount of Medicare bad-debt payment they receive. These are generally complex issues that require a significant amount of time to investigate and fully develop. Unfortunately, the parties will no longer be afforded the ability to develop their case as it proceeds through the appeals process. The new rules require a preliminary position paper (and the corresponding exhibits) to be filed with the PRRB at the beginning of the appeal process. This new requirement forces providers to have their argument in its most complete form at the beginning of the process because additional arguments and evidence cannot be added later, except for good cause. Additionally, if anything is missing in the initial submission of materials, the entire appeal will be dismissed.
Another extremely important change is that providers may now simultaneously file appeals with the PRRB and then withdraw them if they believe their claims can be resolved with the Medicare Administrative Contractor (“MAC”). If a resolution is not reached, providers can reinstate their appeals with the PRRB. Furthermore, if a provider appeals the same issue arising from different Notice of Program Reimbursements (“NPRs”) in the same year, it must be brought in the same appeal.