Medicare: Discrepancy in Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System Methodology Leads to Inaccurate Beneficiary Copayments and Medicate Payments

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Correspondence issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Under the Medicare hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS), beneficiaries can be responsible for paying 50 percent or more of the total payment for outpatient services they receive in hospitals. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) introduced a mechanism to gradually decrease beneficiary cost sharing to 20 percent of the payment rate for each hospital outpatient service. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule that implemented, effective with the 2002 payment rates, a methodology for calculating copayment amounts that was designed to ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. October 6, 2003.

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Correspondence issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Under the Medicare hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS), beneficiaries can be responsible for paying 50 percent or more of the total payment for outpatient services they receive in hospitals. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) introduced a mechanism to gradually decrease beneficiary cost sharing to 20 percent of the payment rate for each hospital outpatient service. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule that implemented, effective with the 2002 payment rates, a methodology for calculating copayment amounts that was designed to ensure that even as certain changes affect the payment rates for hospital outpatient services over time, beneficiary coinsurance for services would eventually be 20 percent of the total payment rate for each service. Under this 2002 methodology, the copayment amount for each outpatient payment group of services, called an ambulatory payment classification (APC) group, could not increase from year to year, and the beneficiary coinsurance percentage would remain the same or decrease, eventually reaching 20 percent for each APC. When CMS published the final rule updating the OPPS payment rates for 2003, the agency stated that it used the methodology implemented in 2002 for determining 2003 copayments. However, in the course of other ongoing work, GAO found several APCs for which copayment amounts increased from 2002 to 2003, contrary to the methodology implemented in 2002. For a federal agency to adopt a new position or payment methodology that is inconsistent with existing rules and regulations, it must follow Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking requirements, which generally include publishing its intentions and allowing for public comment. Because of our concerns about this methodological discrepancy, we discussed the issue with CMS staff in May 2003. Thereafter, in its August 2003 proposed rule setting forth the 2004 OPPS payment rates, CMS stated that it would revise and clarify the copayment methodology implemented in 2002, and that this revised methodology would be used to calculate copayment amounts beginning in 2004. In this report, we present our complete analysis of the 2003 copayment methodology and the implications its use holds for copayment amounts in 2003 and future years. We also present the estimated financial impact this methodology has had on both beneficiary cost sharing and Medicare payments in 2003."

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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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  • October 6, 2003

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Medicare: Discrepancy in Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System Methodology Leads to Inaccurate Beneficiary Copayments and Medicate Payments, text, October 6, 2003; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc301713/: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.