On Nov. 8, 2023, the Senate Finance Committee voted 26-0 to approve the Better Mental Health, Lower Cost Drugs, and Extenders Act. Among its other provisions, the bill, for which final legislative text has not yet been released, would, for the first time, mandate minimum prices that Medicare Part D plans, and the pharmacy

On June 3, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee approved by voice vote a bipartisan proposal to reform the Medicare audit and appeals process in an attempt to help ease the backlog of Medicare appeals and promote efficiency and transparency. The draft proposal, the “Audit & Appeal Fairness, Integrity, and Reforms in Medicare Act of 2015,” would, among other things:Continue Reading Senate Finance Committee Approves Medicare Appeals Reform Proposal

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its latest update to its “High-Risk Series” reports, which again lists Medicare as a high-risk program, in part because of the program’s substantial size and scope, and its wide-ranging effects on beneficiaries, the health care industry, and the U.S. economy. The latest report highlights five areas of particular concern to the GAO: 

  1. Payments and provider incentives in original Medicare (specifically referencing physician feedback reports, physician self-referral policy, high-expenditure Part B drugs, end stage renal disease (ESRD) bundled payments, and low-volume payment adjustments for dialysis facilities);
  2. Medicare Advantage (MA) and other Medicare health plans (including concerns about MA plan payment adjustments and excess payments to Special Needs Plans);
  3. Program design effects on beneficiaries (addressing coordination for dual-eligible beneficiaries, dual-eligible special needs plans, and access to preventive services);
  4. Program management (including implementation of durable medical equipment competitive bidding and oversight of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contracts); and
  5. Oversight of patient care and safety (including the use of clinical data registries and oversight of vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes and long-term care hospitals (LTCHs)).

The GAO makes a series of recommendations to Congress and CMS to address program risks. Specifically, GAO recommends that Congress consider directing the HHS Secretary to require providers who self-refer intensity-modulated radiation therapy services to disclose to their patients that they have a financial interest in the service. The GAO also recommends that Congress better align Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing requirements with U.S. Preventive Task Force recommendations.

Specific recommendations for CMS include:Continue Reading GAO Highlights Medicare Program Risks and Recommends Program Integrity Actions

CMS has updated the Medicare Program Integrity Manual to clarify that providers and suppliers have 45 days to produce documents in response to a pre-payment review Additional Documentation Request (ADR) issued by a Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) or Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPIC). MAC and ZPIC reviewers are instructed not to grant extensions to providers

CMS has announced that it has awarded the Region 5 Recovery Audit contract to Connolly, LLC (although the Government Accountability Office subsequently reported that a bid protest has been filed regarding this award). The purpose of this contract will be to identify improper Medicare payments for durable medical equipment (DME), orthotics, prosthetics, and supplies and

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report entitled “Medicare Program Integrity: Increased Oversight and Guidance Could Improve Effectiveness and Efficiency of Postpayment Claims Reviews."  In the report, the GAO assesses CMS policies and procedures to prevent certain Medicare contractors (Medicare Administrative Contractors, Zone Program Integrity Contractors, Recovery Auditors, and the Comprehensive Error

The OIG has posted guidance on its contractor self-disclosure program, which provides a means for contractors to self-disclose potential violations of the False Claims Act and federal criminal laws involving fraud, conflict of interest, bribery, or gratuity. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires federal contractors with contracts valued over $5 million to disclose to the

In an effort to “increase program transparency and offer more efficient resolutions to providers” subject to the medical review process, CMS has created the new position of “Provider Relations Coordinator."  The Provider Relations Coordinator is intended to improve communication between providers and CMS on medical review process issues. For instance, providers can contact

A number of Congressional committees have held hearings recently to address various health policy issues, including the following:

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee conducted hearings on Medicare Part D drug policy, the role CMS contractors play in management of the Medicare program, and the public health threat of counterfeit drugs;
  • The House Education and

CMS is formalizing its process for dealing with “recalcitrant” Medicare providers and suppliers who are abusing the program and not changing inappropriate behavior even after extensive education. CMS notes that the current practice of placing these providers and suppliers on prepayment review for years utilizes resources that could be better used for other types

A recent GAO report assesses the effectiveness of Medicare Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs) — contractors that perform program integrity activities designed to fight Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse. While the GAO notes that ZPICs take credit for over $250 million in Medicare savings in 2012 from actions such as stopping payment on suspect claims

The OIG recently identified barriers to the effectiveness of the Medicare Drug Integrity Contractor (MEDIC) in performing Medicare Parts C and D benefit integrity activities between April 2010 and March 2011. For instance, the MEDIC reported that it does not have access to centralized Part C data, it lacks access to certain prescription drug event

CMS has developed a “Provider Compliance Interactive Map” web page as a reference tool with state-specific contact information for the following types of Medicare contractors: Payment Error Rate Measurement (PERM), Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT), Medicare Recovery Audit Operations (RACs), and Medicare Administrative Contractor (MACs).

On May 13, 2011, CMS published a second notice under Federal Acquisition Regulations announcing its intention to sponsor a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). The FFRDC is charged with facilitating the modernization of business processes and supporting systems and their operations. CMS will accept comments on the notice until July 5, 2011.  For background information,

On April 13, 2011, CMS published a notice announcing its intention to sponsor a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) to facilitate the modernization of business processes and supporting systems and their operations. The contractor will be available to provide a wide range of support activities, including, among many others, strategic planning for future

On December 27, 2010, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a notice requesting comments on an ACA provision that requires the expansion of the RAC program to Medicare Parts C and D (the RAC program currently applies only to fee-for-service Medicare). The goal of the RAC program is to identify improper payments to