MEDICARE PROGRAM INTEGRITY

GAO: 8/22/13

Increasing Consistency of Contractor Requirements May Improve Administrative Efficiency

What GAO Found 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) contractors that conduct postpayment reviews on Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) claims were established by different legislative actions; are managed by different offices within CMS; and serve different functions in the program. These contractors include (1) Medicare Administrative Contractors that process and pay claims and are responsible for taking actions to reduce payment errors in their jurisdictions; (2) Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPIC) that investigate potential fraud, which can result in referrals to law enforcement or administrative actions; (3) Recovery Auditors (RA) tasked to identify improper payments on a postpayment basis; and (4) the Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT) contractor that reviews a sample of claims nationwide and related documentation to determine a national Medicare FFS improper payment rate. All four types of contractors conduct complex reviews, in which the contractor examines medical records and other documentation sent by providers to determine if the claims meet Medicare coverage and payment requirements. RAs are paid fees contingent on the amount of the claims that are found improper and recouped or adjusted, whereas the other contractors’ reimbursement is not dependent on the amount of their claims reviews. The RAs conducted almost five times as many reviews as the other three contractors combined. Overall, compared to over one 1 billion claims processed in 2012, all four types of contractors combined reviewed less than one 1 percent of claims, about 1.4 million reviews, for which providers might be contacted to send in medical records or other documentation.  Read More