A Review of CMS' Approach to $125 Million Recoupment of Payments to Providers for Services to Incarcerated / Unlawfully Present Beneficiaries

by Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
Contact

CMS seeks to recover from providers $125 million in alleged overpayments for services to beneficiaries who are belatedly identified as ineligible (incarcerated/unlawfully present). In this post, Sheppard Mullin examines the recovery process CMS has put in place, noting CMS procedural shortcomings and reviewing some substantive defenses available to providers facing such demands.

In January 2013, CMS’ Office of Investigator General released two parallel reports, criticizing CMS for making improper payments to providers for services rendered to beneficiaries who, according to updated Social Security Administration records, were either incarcerated or unlawfully present in the United States at the time of such service.[1]

OIG concluded that between 2010-2012, CMS made more than $125 million in improper payments to providers (including hospitals, outpatient facilities, physicians, skilled nurses, DME suppliers, home health, and hospice). OIG recommended that CMS take steps to recover such funds and avoid such payments in future.

In response, CMS noted that it already had in place a system that checks, at the time a claim is submitted, the eligibility status of each beneficiary. If data indicates that a patient is not eligible, the claim is rejected. As a result, all overpayments identified by OIG resulted from changes to SSA data after claims were processed.

Apparently anticipating these OIG reports, in November 2012, CMS published two change requests[2] to implement an Informational Unsolicited Response Process (IUR). Through an IUR, the Common Working File system would automatically flag and report to the MACs any previously paid claims where subsequent data updates indicated that the beneficiary was not eligible at time of service due to incarceration or unlawfully present status. In Spring 2013, CMS began implementing the incarcerated patient IUR.

Although CMS has Regional Audit Contractors (RACs) in place to perform post payment technical bill review, CMS has bypassed the RAC process; instead, using the IUR, CMS has instructed the MACs to “initiate recoupment procedures” upon receipt of an IUR to recover these funds. MACs, acting upon this instruction, immediately initiated recoupment through remittance advice[3] based simply upon the subsequent SSA data change. By acting in this way, CMS:

Failed to provide any explanation of the reason for the overpayment redetermination;
Failed to provide the required 15 day opportunity for rebuttal;
Failed to defer recoupment pending the 15 day rebuttal period and through reconsideration;
Failed to address whether provider liability should be waived under section 1870 of the Social Security Act (no fault waiver); and
Failed to advise providers of their appeal rights.[4]

Providers reacted with surprise, placing many calls to the MACs and SSA (to address mistakes in data). In many cases, SSA data indicating incarceration of a patient was simply erroneous; even if valid, it appears that, like CMS, provider were generally unaware of ineligibility at the time of service.

CMS initially took the position that notice letters were not required and there would be no appeal rights; CMS at first indicated that any erroneous findings would be addressed by “data revisions” (presumably through a discretionary reopening by the MAC).

CMS has modified some of its positions based upon provider objection.

In recent FAQs,[5] CMS now concedes that providers do have appeal rights.

But CMS says most errors won’t be fixed until October 2013.

Critically, CMS has not yet addressed its failure to give providers proper notice, explanation of findings, rebuttal rights, its failure to consider no fault waiver. CMS also has so far failed to honor the post payment restrictions on recoupment pending rebuttal and appeal.

The SSA database is not perfect. In one case, a hospice was put on recoupment for months of service to a female beneficiary in 2010-2011 who was mistakenly identified in the SSA database with an unrelated incarcerated male patient. Notice and thoughtful consideration of rebuttal evidence would have prevented this error.

Perhaps more importantly for the general provider community, at the time each provider filed claims for services previously rendered, SSA data showed that the patient was eligible (or the claim would not have been paid). This fact presents a strong case for waiver of provider overpayment liability under the no fault provisions of section 1870 of the Social Security Act.

[2] CR 8007 and CR 8009; eg: http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Transmittals/Downloads/R1134OTN.pdf

[3] Incarcerated Patient shows ANSI Code 81G.

[4] Key Authorities Include: 42 USC §§ 1395ff, 1395gg, 1395ddd(f); 42 CFR §§ 405.373, 405.379, 405.982; and the Medicare Financial Management Manual, Ch. 34, § 90.

[5] http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Contracting/FFSProvCustSvcGen/Downloads/Incarcerated-Beneficiary-FAQs-8-1-13.pdf

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
Contact
more
less

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.