CMS FAQ’s to Audit Program: What You Should Know

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services receives hundreds, if not thousands, of emails from health plans with questions about changes and updates to the agency’s audit program. In many cases, CMS says, the same answers are sought. Because of that, the agency has published an outline of the questions organizations tend to ask most frequently.

A little background: CMS releases changes and updates to its Program Audit Process every year so health plans know what to expect in the event they are audited. Such probes include CMS program audits, PDE audits, one-third Financial audits, BID audits, Formulary Administration audits, Transition Monitoring Program Analysis, Coverage determination/redetermination Timeliness audits and Data Validation audits.

Medicare plans and pharmacy teams are increasingly subject to closer CMS monitoring and review, so an audit is more likely now than ever before. Typically, CMS audits plans once per audit cycle, which runs between three to five years. Even so, it’s important to be ready for an audit – especially if your health plan has performance issues.

Audit notifications for 2019 will be sent out starting this month. If you receive a notification, give us a call. The team at Tier 1 Pharmacy Consulting provides 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. With experience in more than a dozen audits and a handful of mock audits, Tier 1 can find solutions to ensure compliancy and get you through the process.

Back to the FAQ. Below,  we highlight a few things health plans are most concerned about. The entire CMS article can be found here:

Universe Submissions

CMS has tips for preparing universe submissions in the hopes of making the process a little smoother on both sides. For example, the agency suggests that plans direct any universe questions that arise to the area Team Lead before submission. Plans also should answer “not applicpable” answers as “NA” not “N/A” as seen on many question and answer forms.

Compliance Program Effectiveness (CPE)

CMS has started collecting Call Logs, which help identify misclassification of coverage requests during the Compliance Program Effectiveness portion of an audit. The agency plans to use other ways to look at requests that are filed incorrectly, such as reviewing how well a plan oversees the call-routing process.

Health plans should expect to be evaluated. However,  collection of call log data is suspended for 2019.  Health plans should still add call log auditing and monitoring activities to their to-do lists and have a documented oversight process in place.

Part D Formulary and Benefit Administration (FA)

CMS says the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) or Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) can be populated for FA record layouts currently requiring submission of an HICN. CMS also indicated that New Member Layout should be populated to include only enrollees for which the plan does not utilize prior claims history.

Have questions for CMS? Email the Parts C and D mailbox at or the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office at

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.

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