CMS to audit Medicare Advantage plans in response to overbilling

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is at the center of a controversy that could affect health plans across the country. 

Last week, national news outlets – including National Public Radio – reported that CMS is proposing a series of new audits designed to take back $1 billion of the $30 billion the government says health insurers have overcharged Medicare in the last three years. CMS’ goal is to recoup some of that money by 2020. With the new year just five months away, the government could move full steam ahead with its plan – and health plans should be prepared. 

Some background, as noted in the NPR story and others: 

Some Medicare Advantage plans, the government says, have tried to boost their revenues by billing Medicare more than necessary. These plans have done so by stretching the truth on how much medical care their elderly patients need. Or, plans have charged Medicare for treating illnesses and conditions they can’t prove their members have truly been diagnosed with. 

With 22 million seniors – that’s one in three men and women over the age of 65 – on Medicare, the  problem is nothing new. In fact, CMS has known about inflated billing practices for several years; the agency has long considered auditing plans before to address billing dishonesty and mistakes but before had always backed off. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s Office has kicked off  its own round of nationwide Medicare Advantage audits of health plans billing practices.

The scrutiny is growing. 

The insurance industry, for its part, is highly critical, arguing CMS audits are unfair and have the potential to negatively impact seniors’ medical care. 

“If adopted in its current form, [the audits] could have a detrimental impact” on all Medicare Advantage plans and “affect the ability of plans to deliver high quality care,” Insurer Cigna Corp. wrote in a May financial filing

If CMS proceeds with the audits, the penalties are unclear for health plans who are accused of overbilling Medicare. 

It’s important to be ready at all times for an audit – especially if your health plan has faced CMS oversight in the past. Being prepared will help plans identify and respond to potential gaps and address them as quickly as possible. The normal audit process is extensive, so one can imagine this latest round of audits will be in-depth at best. Plans are going to need help – and that’s where Tier 1 Pharmacy Consulting can help. 

We provide support and consultation for all types of audits. We can review data to ensure accuracy with file layout requirements, interpret data to identify potential issues, craft responses and create corrective action plans. Even for the kind of audits that are forthcoming. 

With experience in more than a dozen audits and a handful of mock audits, Tier 1 can find solutions to get you through the process and avoid fines if at all possible. 

About Tier 1 

Tier 1 Pharmacy Consulting is a Denver, Colorado-based pharmacy benefit consulting firm offering customized services to healthcare plans that offer prescription drug benefits. Whether your health plan is big or small, Tier 1 offers strategic, cost-saving solutions that boost the plan’s overall value and help its members by providing high quality care.

Tier 1’s founder is a clinical pharmacist with more than a decade of experience in pharmacy benefit management. We are passionate about collaborating and developing effective strategies to improve health plan outcomes.

Tier 1 offers health plans a new perspective on how to manage their pharmacy benefit. Our team is made up of experts who strive to make effective plans even stronger and fill in any gaps due to a lack of time or resources.

Drop us a note at info@tieronepc.com. Let’s get connected.

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