Medicare: Communications with Physicians Can Be Improved

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Unlike other federal programs that make expenditures under the direct control of the government, Medicare constitutes a promise to pay for covered medical services provided to its beneficiaries by about one million providers. Given this open-ended entitlement, it is essential that appropriate and effective rules and policies be specified so that only necessary services are provided and reimbursed. Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have promulgated an extensive body of statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures on what shall be paid for and ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. February 27, 2002.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Unlike other federal programs that make expenditures under the direct control of the government, Medicare constitutes a promise to pay for covered medical services provided to its beneficiaries by about one million providers. Given this open-ended entitlement, it is essential that appropriate and effective rules and policies be specified so that only necessary services are provided and reimbursed. Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have promulgated an extensive body of statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures on what shall be paid for and under what circumstances. Information that carriers give to physicians is often difficult to use, out of date, inaccurate, and incomplete. Medicare bulletins that carriers use to communicate with physicians are often poorly organized and contain dense legal language. Similarly, other means of communicating with physicians, such as toll-free provider assistance lines and websites, have problems with accuracy and completeness. Although all carriers issue bulletins, operate call centers, and maintain websites, each carrier develops its own communications policies and strategies. This approach results in a duplication of effort as well as variations in the quality of carrier communications. CMS provides little technical assistance to help carriers develop effective communication strategies. Neither CMS carrier oversight nor self-monitoring by the carriers is comprehensive enough to provide sufficiently detailed information that could either pinpoint specific communication problems or identify poorly performing carriers. CMS is working to improve its physician communications by consolidating new instructions and regulations and issuing them on a more predictable schedule to lessen the burden of frequent policy changes that physicians cannot anticipate. CMS is also enhancing its education programs for both physicians and carrier staffs and expanding its efforts to obtain physician feedback. Finally, CMS is improving its national website and intends to develop a single web-based source of information for physicians."

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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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  • February 27, 2002

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Medicare: Communications with Physicians Can Be Improved, report, February 27, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc293018/: accessed December 10, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.