Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that, effective February 22, Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) may no longer send additional documentation requests (ADRs) to providers for post-payment audits. In addition, February 28 is the last day a Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) may send prepayment ADRs for the RAC Prepayment Review Demonstration. According to CMS, this pause in ADRs is being implemented to allow the RACs to complete all outstanding claim reviews by the end of their current contracts. Furthermore, CMS stated that this pause will also allow CMS to continue to refine and improve the RAC program. This announcement was published less than a week after the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) Medicare Appellant Forum, which was held to address the current backlog of cases pending at the ALJ level of appeal.
It appears that, as a result of provider input as well as recent legislative participation, CMS is recognizing the challenges to providers of intense RAC scrutiny and withholding of payment without the corresponding appeal rights afforded under the statute. From this notice, we are hopeful that the ADRs will cease virtually immediately from the RACs and that, as of June 1, the MAC will not be able to effectuate offset for initial denials by the RACs. Hopefully, this will provide some needed relief to Medicare providers and give OMHA a chance to reduce its backlog so that, in the future, providers may receive due process in the timely manner that they are entitled to.
Wachler & Associates will continue to keep you updated on CMS’s changes to the RAC program and appeals process. If you need assistance in your defense of a Medicare audit, or have questions pertaining to best practices for appealing to the ALJ, please contact an experienced health care attorney at Wachler & Associates at 248-544-0888 or firstname.lastname@example.org