Medicare Recovery Audit Contracting: Lessons Learned to Address Improper Payments and Improve Contractor Coordination and Oversight

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses preventing and addressing government payment errors in the Medicare program. Medicare, which provides health insurance for those aged 65 and older and certain disabled persons, is susceptible to improper payments due to its size and complexity. Because the Medicare program has paid billions of dollars in error each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)--the agency that administers Medicare--conducts a number of activities to reduce improper payments. CMS administers the Medicare program with the help of Medicare claims administration contractors, which are not ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. July 15, 2010.

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses preventing and addressing government payment errors in the Medicare program. Medicare, which provides health insurance for those aged 65 and older and certain disabled persons, is susceptible to improper payments due to its size and complexity. Because the Medicare program has paid billions of dollars in error each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)--the agency that administers Medicare--conducts a number of activities to reduce improper payments. CMS administers the Medicare program with the help of Medicare claims administration contractors, which are not only responsible for processing and paying approximately 4.5 million claims per day, but for also conducting pre-payment reviews of claims to prevent improper payments before claims are paid, as well as post-payment reviews of claims potentially paid in error. To supplement these and other program integrity efforts, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 directed CMS to conduct a 3-year demonstration project on the use of a new type of contractors---recovery audit contractors (RAC)---in identifying underpayments and overpayments, and recouping overpayments in the Medicare program. The RAC demonstration program began in 2005. Subsequently, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 required CMS to implement a national recovery audit contractor program by January 1, 2010. Since the conclusion of the demonstration project, CMS and we have reported on improvements needed for the RAC national program. For example, in a June 2008 report evaluating the demonstration project, CMS reported its intent to make a number of changes to the RAC national program to better address RAC-identified vulnerabilities, respond to provider concerns, and streamline operations. In March 2010, we reported on weaknesses in the agency's actions to address improper payments and CMS concurred with our recommendations. The findings in both reports are important in light of the administration's recent commitment to reducing payment errors in federal programs. In addition, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates the use of RACs to identify overpayments and underpayments and to recoup overpayments made in Medicare Parts C and D and the Medicaid program. Not only can CMS's experience with RAC contractors benefit its other programs, but lessons learned from the RAC program may also assist other agencies' payment recapture audits, increase the funds recovered, and help prevent such improper payments from being made in the future. Our testimony is based on our March 2010 report13 and will focus on the lessons that can be learned from the RAC demonstration about (1) developing an adequate process and taking corrective action to address RAC-identified vulnerabilities leading to improper payments, (2) resolving coordination issues between the RACs and the Medicare claims administration contractors, and (3) establishing methods to oversee RAC claim review accuracy and provider service during the national program."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • July 15, 2010

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Medicare Recovery Audit Contracting: Lessons Learned to Address Improper Payments and Improve Contractor Coordination and Oversight, text, July 15, 2010; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc290558/: accessed June 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.