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New Commercial Repayment Center Contractor on the Horizon; WCRC Contract Protested

Posted on October 9, 2017 by Daniel Anders

A recent press release from the Performant Financial Corporation announced it has been awarded the Commercial Repayment Center (CRC) contract by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Barring a bid protest, we expect a transition to the new CRC contractor over the next few months (CGI Federal’s contract, the outgoing CRC contractor, appears to run through 1/8/2018).

CRC Responsibilities

The Commercial Repayment Center is responsible for identifying and recovering primary payments mistakenly made by the Medicare program when another entity had primary payment responsibility (otherwise known as conditional payments). While CGI Federal has had the responsibility for recovering from group health plans for several years, it has been recovering from non-group health plans, such as a liability insurer, no-fault insurer, or workers’ compensation entity, only since 10/1/2015.

As those of you who have had any dealing with the CRC know, communication with the CRC following that start date was often frustrating as a result of long turnaround times to receive conditional payment information and inconsistent and contradictory responses from CRC representatives. While communication with the CRC has definitely improved over time, CMS has nonetheless chosen not to renew their contract with CGI Federal. CMS’s reasons are unstated, but as we noted in a recent article, CMS Releases Annual Report on CRC Conditional Payment Recovery, conditional payment amounts recovered by the CRC on behalf of Medicare declined from 2015 to 2016, despite the expansion of CRC’s recovery efforts to non-group health plans.

Besides the CRC contract, Performant currently acts as a Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) for Medicare’s fee-for-service program (Parts A and B). As a RAC, Performant identifies and corrects improper payments made to medical providers as a result of insufficient documentation to support the payment, payments made which do not meet CMS guidelines and payments made for services that are incorrectly coded.

Similar to the RAC contract, the CRC contract is paid on a contingency basis. Consequently, the CRC contractor has an incentive to recover as much as possible on behalf of CMS. Per the Performant press release, “at full scale, Performant anticipates staffing the program with over 250 dedicated employees operating out of Performant’s offices around the country.”

CMS contractor transitions (see below bid protest) usually do not go as smoothly as advertised, thus we will wait and see how effectively this new contractor takes on the role as the CRC. We will advise you of any important developments during to and subsequent to the contractor transition.

WCRC Contract Under Protest

In a 9/11/2017 article, CMS to Transition to New MSA Review Contractor, we detailed the awarding of the new $60 million, five-year contract, for the Workers Compensation Review Center (WCRC) to Capitol Bridge, LLC. Two of the unsuccessful bidders, Arch Systems, and Ken Consulting, have filed formal protests to the awarding of the contract to Capitol Bridge. The protests are to be resolved by 12/21/2017. It appears then that this will delay the transition to the new WCRC. We will keep you apprised of any notable news on the WCRC transition.

Tower MSA Partners Rita Wilson and Dan Anders to Speak at NAMSAP Annual Conference

Posted on September 21, 2017 by Tower MSA Partners

The NAMSAP Annual Conference – MSP Policy Palooza 2017  – takes place September 27-29 in Baltimore.

Tower MSA Partners’ CEO Rita Wilson and Chief Compliance Officer Daniel Anders, MSCC will participate in two sessions at the National Alliance of Medicare Set Asides Professionals (NAMSAP) Annual Conference this month.

New rules, new contractors, new risks, and the ever-changing healthcare landscape keep the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) industry in constant flux. Where is it heading and how can MSP companies guide clients through changes? Wilson will join Gary Patureau, of the Louisiana Association of Self Insured Employers (LASIE), Optum’s Lavonya Chapman, and Sedgwick’s Michael Merlino to examine trends and prognosticate about the future. “MSP Predictions” will start at 10:45 a.m. on September 29.

“With a new Workers’ Compensation Review Contractor (WCRC), a new WCMSA re-review announcement and the potential for changes with Liability MSAs, payers need MSP guidance now more than ever,” Wilson said. “Presented from the payers’ perspective, this session will focus on the challenges of the current environment, future predictions and a ‘call to action’ for the MSP industry to drive future behaviors.”

Anders and Contact Claims Services’ Jeff Knipper will present the Alignment of MSP Processes on September 27 at 4:30 p.m. This session explores the connection among Section 111 reporting, conditional payments and MSAs.

“Traditionally the industry has viewed these as separate activities and kept them in silos,” Anders said. “But each impacts the other and you need a continuous, cohesive process to accurately manage every aspect.”

The NAMSAP Annual Conference – MSP Policy Palooza2017  – will be held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel September 27-29, 2017.

For more information on the conference, see:

For more information on the Tower MSA Partners presenters, see:

Tower MSA to Host Free Webinar on Medicare Advantage, Part D Plan Recovery Recovery Rights

Posted on September 14, 2017 by Tower MSA Partners

Tower MSA Partners will host a free webinar on Medicare Advantage and Part D Plan Recovery Rights on October 4 at 12:00 PM EDT. Tower MSA Partners is pleased to have Brian Bargender, of Humana, as the guest presenter for the Webinar. Humana is the second largest Medicare Advantage Plan and Part D plan in the country and has been the leading advocate for seeking reimbursement under the MSP Act from primary payers and Medicare beneficiaries for payments made through these plans.

Areas covered in the presentation are:

  • Intro to Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans
  • MSP guidance provided by CMS to MA and Part D Plans
  • MA and Part D MSP enforcement rights
  • Obstacles to enforcing MSP
  • Tips for addressing MSP with MA and Part D plans

To register for the Tower MSA Premier Webinar, click here.

To read more about the Webinar, click here to read article posted on WorkersCompCentral about the Webinar.

CMS to Transition to New MSA Review Contractor

Posted on September 11, 2017 by Daniel Anders

On September 1, 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the awarding of the contract for the Workers Compensation Review Contractor (WCRC) to Capitol Bridge, LLC. The $60 million contract is for one-year with the option of renewing for an additional four years.

Since 2003, CMS has had in place the WCRC for the purpose of reviewing Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside (WCMSA) proposals submitted to CMS for review and approval. The WCRC evaluates these proposals and provides a recommendation to the designated CMS Regional Office (RO) as to whether the proposed MSA amount adequately protects Medicare’s interests. If the WCRC disagrees with the proposal it will provide an alternate recommendation, either higher or lower, than the proposed amount. The CMS RO usually accepts the recommendation from the WCRC and issues the approval letter to the submitter of the proposed MSA.

Provider Resources, Inc., has been the WCRC for the past five years. It is unclear based upon the available information when Capitol Bridge will take over from Provider Resources, although the solicitation for the WCRC contract provided for a three-month transition period.

Tower MSA Takeaways

It is important to note that while the review contractor may change, the policies in place to review WCMSAs are set by CMS, not the contractor. Consequently, we do not anticipate any significant change to how WCMSAs are reviewed and approved under the new contractor. Nonetheless, there are some recent changes to the WCMSA Reference Guide, such as the Amended Review process, which will fall largely on Capitol Bridge to implement (See article: Practical Implications of the Revised CMS WCMSA Reference Guide). Also, as we advised in another article, CMS MSA Review Expansion to Liability Planned for 2018, the new WCRC contract provides for an optional expansion of the WCMSA review process to liability claims as of 7/1/2018. At this time, it is uncertain whether CMS will choose to move forward with such an expansion as of that date.

Given our experience with other CMS contractor transitions we anticipate the new contractor will have a learning curve, which may result in longer turnaround times for MSA submissions and some responses inconsistent with the prior contractor’s reviews. Tower MSA will, if necessary, address with CMS any WCMSA approval falling outside of established CMS guidelines.

We look forward to working with Capitol Bridge over the coming months and years to provide for an effective WCMSA review and approval process that benefits all interested parties. Tower MSA will continue to provide any relevant updates as Capitol Bridge transitions to its role as the WCRC.

Statement Regarding Hurricane Irma’s Impact on Tower MSA Partners Services

Posted on September 8, 2017 by Rita Wilson

As the safety of Tower MSA Partners employees and their families is our utmost concern, Tower MSA’s office in Delray Beach, FL, may be closed on Monday, September 11, 2017, and longer depending upon the impact of Hurricane Irma on South Florida. In anticipation of this closure, we have implemented our business continuity plan which provides for our continued full service to our customers from locations outside of the storm’s path.

With server location for all of Tower’s systems in redundant facilities across the U.S. and relocating Tower staff to multiple backup facilities, business operations will function as normal. All phone inquiries and referrals should be directed to (888) 331-4941 and e-mail inquiries and referrals to referrals@towermsa.com. It is possible that you may experience a slight delay in response, but be assured your request will be handled expeditiously.

For urgent requests, additional contacts are as follows:

1. Compliance questions regarding conditional payments, MSAs and CMS submissions may be directed to Dan Anders, Chief Compliance Officer, at 847-946-2880.

2. Section 111 questions may be directed to Hany Abdelsayed, EVP of Strategic Services, at 916-818-8062.

3. Clinical MSA questions may be directed to Patricia Smith, EVP of Clinical Operations, at 321-320-1045.

We will continue to communicate post-Irma and advise all once we return to normal operations in our Delray office.

Thank you for your understanding and, most importantly, our thoughts and prayers to those who have been affected and will be affected by this storm.

Rita Wilson
CEO
Tower MSA Partners

CMS Releases Annual Report on CRC Conditional Payment Recovery

Posted on September 5, 2017 by Daniel Anders

On 8/30/2017 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its annual report on the Commercial Repayment Center’s (CRC) Medicare conditional payment collections for the 2016 fiscal year (10/1/2015 through 9/30/2016). In short, the report documents the CRC identified $243.68 million in conditional payments, collected a net of $106.29 million and returned $88.35 million to the Medicare Trust Fund after subtracting collections costs.

The CRC, which is paid on a contingency basis, has responsibility for Medicare conditional payment recovery efforts involving Group Health Plans and Non-Group Health Plans (NGHP). NGHPs are liability insurance (including self-insurance, no-fault insurance or workers’ compensation). FY 2016 was the first fiscal year in which the CRC had responsibility for recovery of conditional payments from NGHPs, a task previously handled by the Benefits Coordination and Recovery Center (BCRC). Recovery claims involving Medicare beneficiaries remain with the BCRC.

A copy of the report may be found on the CMS website here.

Some observations from the report:

  • CMS does not split out GHP and NGHP recovery information which makes it difficult to ascertain, one, the effect of adding NGHPs to the CRC’s responsibility has had on overall collections and, two, the percentage of overall collections attributable to GHPs versus NGHPs.
  • Despite identifying $243.68 million on conditional payments, the CRC only recovered $117.40 million, shortly under half (48%) of the identified amounts. This may be the result of the provided data only documenting debts that are identified and collected within the fiscal year. The report indicates that collection of FY 2016 identified debts continues into the next fiscal year.
  • Connected to the above observation, it is disappointing that the CRC does not provide a more comprehensive multi-year view of its recovery work. Information such as amounts recovered over the past several years, average turnaround time from demand to repayment, and the above-mentioned GHP vs. NGHP data would be invaluable to understanding the overall program.
  • Provided in the report is a statement indicating amounts returned to the Medicare Trust Fund dropped from $125.05 million in FY 2015 to $88.35 million in FY 2016. CMS attributes the drop to “a decrease in GHP recoveries due in part to the maturity of the mandatory insurer reporting under Section 111 of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 decreasing the instances of mistaken payments, as well as the CRC’s resolution of pending available recoveries.” This drop is nonetheless surprising given that FY 2016 marked the CRC’s first year recovering from NGHPs!

Takeaways

We do not recommend any changes to your Medicare conditional payment resolution program or process based upon the report. The report merely provides a window into the efforts by the CRC at recovering conditional payments from GHPs and NGHPs.

Practical Implications of the Revised CMS WCMSA Reference Guide

Posted on August 18, 2017 by Daniel Anders

Earlier this month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a revised Workers’ Compensation MSA Reference Guide (WCMSA) (find Version 2.6 here) with several notable changes and additions impacting its review of MSAs in workers’ compensation cases. The Tower MSA compliance team has taken some time to review and consider not only the substantive impact these changes have on our processes, but the implications for our clients. Please find below a summary of the notable changes to the Reference Guide along with practical implications.

Recognition of a Hearing on the Merits of the Case (Section 4.1.4)

The relevant change to this section is as follows:

Because the CMS prices based upon what is claimed, released, or released in effect, the CMS must have documentation as to why disputed cases settle future medical costs for less than the recommended pricing. As a result, when a state WC judge or other binding party approves a WC settlement after a hearing on the merits, Medicare generally will accept the terms of the settlement, unless the settlement does not adequately address Medicare’s interests. This shall include all denied liability cases, whether in part or in full . . .

Practical Implications

Over the years CMS has had several definitions of under what circumstances it will recognize a hearing on the merits, but the takeaway has consistently been that CMS gives itself complete discretion as to whether or not it will recognize a particular judicial decision, order or finding as limiting the MSA. Some commentary in response to the Reference Guide revisions has indicated the changes found in this section will result in Zero MSAs based upon a complete claim denial no longer being approved without a hearing on the merits confirming the basis for the denial. We are not certain this is the correct inference to draw from this change. This section addresses the effect of a hearing on the merits of a case to the projection of future medical care. If there is no hearing on the merits of the case, which is the situation in most MSA submission, Zero MSA or otherwise, then this section should have no applicability to CMS’s review of a Zero MSA.

Tower MSA’s plan is to stay the course on the long-used criteria for a Zero MSA based upon a claim denial unless and until we identify any changes through the MSA submission process which requires modification to these criteria.

Recognition of State-Specific Statutes (Section 9.4.5)

The relevant change to this section as follows:

Submitters requesting alteration to pricing based upon state-legislated time limits must be able to show by finding from a court of competent jurisdiction, or appropriate state entity as assigned by law, that the specific WCMSA proposal does not meet the state’s list of exemptions to the legislative mandate. For those states where treatment is varied by some type of state-authorized utilization review board, the submitter shall include the alternative treatment plan showing what treatment has replaced the treatment in question from the beneficiary’s treating physician for those items deemed unnecessary by the utilization review board. Failure to include these items initially will result in pricing at the full life expectancy of the beneficiary or the original value of treatment without regard to the state utilization review board recommendation.

Practical Implications – State-Legislated Time Limits: Similar towards its policy on recognizing decisions stemming from hearings on the merits, CMS has consistently given itself complete discretion as to when it will recognize any state statute as providing a limitation on the medical care allocated in the MSA. Experience has shown CMS to be unwilling, under most circumstances, to recognize a state statute as having the affect of limiting medical care in the MSA. A notable example is the Georgia statutory provision limiting an employer’s responsibility for medical care to 400 weeks post the date of injury in non-catastrophic claims (applicable to cases with DOIs of 7/1/2013 and later). We have yet to see an instance where CMS has agreed to limit the MSA amount based upon this statute.

The changes to this section of the Reference Guide provide hope that CMS may be more open to recognizing state statutes, like Georgia’s, as a basis for limiting medical treatment and medications in the MSA. Unfortunately, the requirement “to show by a finding from a court of competent jurisdiction . . . that the specific WCMSA proposal does not meet the state’s list of exemptions to the legislative mandate” presents a challenge in attempting to use a statutory provision to limit the MSA. For example, in Georgia a workers’ compensation case is by default considered non-catastrophic unless accepted by the employer or carrier as catastrophic or the claimant’s attorney submits to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Board a request for the claimant to be designated as catastrophic. It is unclear at this point whether confirming the non-catastrophic nature of the claim in board approved settlement documents or a separate finding by the board that the claim is non-catastrophic will be sufficient for CMS to recognize the limitation. Based upon our experience with similar types of issues, we expect CMS to require a specific finding separate and apart from the settlement documents. Accordingly, this will require settling parties, whether in Georgia or in other states, to work with their WC board, commission or other judicial authority to provide the necessary finding confirming the claim does not meet any of the exemptions to the statute.

Practical Implications – Utilization Reviews: Revisions to this section of the Reference Guide also address the use of URs to limit care in the MSA. According to the requirements delineated by CMS the following must be presented with the MSA submission:

UR denial pursuant “some type of state-authorized utilization review board.”
“Alternative treatment plan” from the treating physician showing what treatment has replaced the UR denied treatment or medications.

The addition of the language regarding URs raises more questions than it answers. What does CMS define as a UR Board? For example, the California Independent Medical Review (IMR) process, while statutorily created, does not include a UR review board (Although we believe it can be argued that the IMR process is equivalent to such a board). Further, CMS fails to define what would be considered an “alternative treatment plan.” It would seem that an intransigent treating physician could refuse to provide alternative treatment, thus resulting in inclusion of treatment or medications in the MSA denied through the UR process. It is unfortunate CMS added this “alternative treatment plan” requirement as it undermines the very reason a UR process is in place, namely to limit medical care based upon evidence-based treatment guidelines. As Tower MSA submits MSAs to CMS with UR denials we will provide further recommendations as to how CMS is defining a “UR board” and “alternative treatment plan.”

Addition of “Amended Review” to Re-Review Policy (Section 16.0)

As fully explained in the Tower MSA article of 7/12/2017, “Second Chance with MSA Approval!: New CMS Policy Allows for Review of a New MSA Post a Prior Approval,” CMS has introduced what is called an Amended Review process for cases meeting the following criteria:

    CMS has issued a conditional approval/approved amount at least 12 but no more than 48 months prior,
    The case has not yet settled as of the date of the request for re-review, and
    Projected care has changed so much that the submitter’s new proposed amount would result in a 10% or $10,000 change (whichever is greater) in CMS’ previously approved amount.

Practical Implications: The Amended Review criteria presents an opportunity to have a second bite at the CMS MSA review apple when it comes to claims which despite having a previously approved MSA, failed to settle medical. It is important to note that the Amended Review process applies not only to MSA determinations resulting in counter-highers, but any MSA determination, approved as submitted or counter-lower, that meets the above-defined criteria. Please contact Tower MSA to discuss eligible claims.

Added Section on Required Resubmission (Section 16.1)

The addition to this section is as follows:

Where a proposed WCMSA amount has been closed due to inactivity for one year or more from the original date of submission, a full-file resubmission will be required.

Practical Implications: Previously a case closed for inactivity for one year or more would be reopened if the submitter provided the documentation in response to a Development Letter (The most common reason for case closure). CMS is now indicating solely providing the documentation in response to the Development Letter will be insufficient for them to reopen, instead a completely new MSA proposal and supporting documentation will be required. Tower MSA will advise when a case meets the criteria for filing a resubmission.

Additional MSA Administration Guidelines (Section 17.1)

The addition to this section is as follows:

Although beneficiaries may act as their own administrators, it is highly recommended that settlement recipients consider the use of a professional administrator for their funds.

Practical Implications: While not requiring professional administration, this is an acknowledgement by CMS of the difficulties a claimant may face on their own in administering an MSA. Tower MSA agrees with CMS on the benefits of professional administration and when requested by our client will provide MSA professional administration through our partner, Ametros.

Other less notable changes found in the Reference Guide apply to clarifying the order of jurisdictional precedence for MSA pricing, updating requirements for spinal cord stimulator pricing, updating off-label medication requirements, clarifying total settlement calculation guidelines and clarification of change of submitter requirements.

Final Comments: While we are pleased CMS is addressing the concerns expressed by Tower MSA and others in the MSP compliance field concerning a second chance at CMS review of an MSA and recognition of state statutory limitations on injury-related medical care, the real test will be in the coming weeks and months the affect these revisions have on the review of MSAs submitted to CMS for approval. Tower MSA continuously monitors these responses and will provide our clients appropriate guidance on the impact, or lack thereof, of these revisions and additions to the WCMSA Reference Guide.

Tower MSA Partners Chief Comliance Officer, Dan Anders, WCI-TV interview on Tower’s Opioid Discussion at WCI 2017 Conference

Posted on August 7, 2017 by Tower MSA Partners

Tower MSA Partners Chief Compliance Officer, Dan Anders, spoke with WCI-TV’s Ed Heiland about Tower MSA’s theme this year at WCI 2017 Conference. Tower MSA’s theme this year is a discussion on opioids that delves on intervention strategies, claim techniques, PBM tools, MSA impact, and public policy. Dan’s interview with Ed Heiland may be found here.

During WCI 2017 Conference, Dan Anders also spoke to Michael Calendrillo, from WCI-TV, about the latest in Medicare Secondary Payer compliance topic in Day 2 of the conference. Dan’s interview with Michael Calendrillo may be found here.

Other notable WCI-TV interviews during the WCI 2017 Conference include:

  • Mark Pew, Senior VP, Prium, speaking to Kimberly Bottom, from WCI-TV, about the importance and the process of using Physician Peer Review for reducing the use of Opioids. Video of the interview can be found here.
  • Phil Walls, RPh, Chief Clinical and Compliance Officer, myMatrixx, speaking to Kimberly Bottom about the role of a Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) in addressing Opioid abuse. Video of the interview can be found here.
  • Melvin Phol, MD, FASAM, Chief Medical Officer, Las Vegas Recovery Center speaking to Kimberly Bottom about Opioid addiction. Video of the interview can be found here.
  • Kimberly George, SVP of Corporate Development, M & A and Healthcare, Sedgwick and Mark Walls, VP, Communications & Strategic Analysis, Safety National speaking with Ed Heiland, from WCI-TV, about hosting Centers for Excellence that brings cutting edge topics related to Workers Compensation and Women’s Alliance. Video of the interview can be found here.
  • Kimberly George and Mark Walls’ speaking with Ed Heiland about the Centers for Excellence’s Risk Management track related to private equity investing in workers compensation and the National Workers Compensation Review in part 2 of the interview. Video of the interview can be found here.
  • Carrie Struzynski, RN, LHRM, CHRM, MSN, PhD, speaking with Kimberly Bottom about how Randstad addresses opioids on worker’s compensations claims. Video of the interview can be found here.

Tower MSA Partners to Sponsor Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI) – TV

Posted on August 1, 2017 by Tower MSA Partners

Tower MSA Partners is sponsoring WCI-TV, the televised coverage of Workers’ Compensation Institute’s Workers’ Compensation Education Conference, and is dedicating its TV segments to examining opioids.

“Tower is pleased to partner with WCI to sponsor WCI-TV for the 3rd consecutive year and participate in the interview process throughout the conference. With opioid use in the forefront of issues facing workers’ compensation payers, we will explore prescribing habits, addiction and interventions from different disciplines within the system,” said Rita Wilson, CEO of Tower MSA Partners.

Some of the perspectives and industry leaders featured in Tower’s interviews are:

  • Claims ManagementCarrie Struzynski, RN, LHRM, CHRM, MSN, PhDc, Quarterback/Senior Manager, Risk Management, Safety & Insurance, Randstad North America, Inc.
  • MSP ComplianceDan Anders, Chief Compliance Officer, Tower MSA Partners
  • Peer ReviewMark Pew, Senior Vice President, PRIUM
  • PhysicianMel Pohl, MD, FASAM, Chief Medical Officer, Las Vegas Recovery Center
  • Pharmacy Benefit ManagementPhil Walls, RPh, Chief Clinical & Compliance Officer, myMatrixx
  • Public PolicyMark Walls, Safety National’s Vice President of Communications, and Kimberly George, Senior Healthcare Advisor, Sedgwick Claims Management Services

From its studios near the exhibit hall, WCI-TV’s programming will be aired throughout the conference area, in conference hotels’ guest rooms, on shuttles, WCI’s website, e-blasts, and on You Tube. It is produced by CNTV, a Winter Park, Florida-based company that delivers a news approach to the convention television business.

The 2017 WCI WCEC will be held August 6-9 at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

The full article may be found here.

Accuracy in Section 111 Reporting of ORM Vital to Avoiding Unnecessary Repayment Demands from Medicare

Posted on July 24, 2017 by Daniel Anders

While the Commercial Repayment Center (CRC) has faced some valid criticism over the course of the past year and half in relation to its recovery efforts on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS), not all problems start with the CRC. CRC’s recovery efforts are driven by the data employers, carriers and self-insured entities report to Medicare through the Section 111 Mandatory Insurer Reporting process. Chief among the data elements reported is acceptance of Ongoing Responsibility for Medicals (ORM) and the termination thereof. If this data is reported inaccurately or there is a failure to report required data, then the applicable plan may be faced with inappropriate recovery demands by the CRC.

Applicable Plan Reporting of ORM is the Catalyst for CRC Recovery Efforts

Since October 5, 2015, the CRC has had responsibility for the recovery of conditional payments where the insurer or employer (including self-insured entities) is the identified debtor, known in CMS terms as the “applicable plan.” The CRC learns of opportunities to recover through the Section 111 Mandatory Insurer Reporting process. In other words, the applicable plan is the catalyst for Medicare conditional payment recovery by its reporting of ORM.

The mandatory reporting provisions of the Medicare Secondary Payer Act require the applicable plan to report to Medicare in three instances – the acceptance of ORM, the termination of ORM and issuance of a Total Payment Obligation to the Claimant (TPOC), settlement judgment, award or other payment. In regard to ORM, two key data elements reported are the date responsibility for ORM is accepted and the accepted diagnosis codes. Once this information is reported the following actions are initiated by CMS’s contractors:

1. The BCRC, which handles Medicare coordination of benefits, should deny payment for medical bills submitted for payment in which the billed diagnosis codes match or is similar to the reported diagnosis codes.

2. The CRC identifies medical claims that Medicare has paid that it deems related to the reported diagnosis codes.

Upon the CRC identifying treatment related to the reported diagnosis codes, it will issue a Conditional Payment Notice (CPN) to the applicable plan which itemizes charges deemed related to the injury. The applicable plan has 30 days from the date on the CPN to dispute charges after which a Demand Letter will issue demanding repayment for the charges identified by the CRC. A Demand Letter provides 120 days from receipt of the letter for the applicable plan to appeal all or some of the charges or issue payment. If payment is not issued within 60 days of receipt, interest begins to accrue from the Demand Letter date.

Reporting Accurate Acceptance of ORM and Diagnosis Codes

The trigger for reporting ORM is a claimant identified as a Medicare beneficiary and the assumption of ORM by the applicable plan. ORM is reported when the applicable plan has made a determination to assume responsibility for ORM, or is otherwise required to assume ORM—not when (or after) the first payment for medicals under ORM has actually been made. Accordingly, the ORM acceptance date is typically the date of injury.

Along with the ORM acceptance date, at least one ICD-10 diagnosis code must be reported for the diagnosis that has been accepted on the claim (If more than one diagnosis has been accepted, then additional diagnosis codes are reported). While medical provider billing records are often used to determine ICD-10 diagnosis codes to report, these should be used as a starting point, not an ending point, in identifying the correct codes to report to Medicare.

Keep in mind that medical providers, and especially hospitals, will often insert into billing records any diagnosis reported to the provider, which are not necessarily the same diagnoses that are being accepted on the claim. Consequently, the person responsible for determining the correct ICD-10 diagnosis code to report, usually the claims handler, must make an independent determination, separate and apart from the medical provider, as to whether the particular diagnosis is being accepted on the claim. If the billing records do not properly represent what is being accepted, or if further diagnosis codes are required to better define what is accepted, then online ICD-10 resources are available to identify codes which correctly represent the accepted body parts and conditions.

Once ORM and the diagnosis codes are reported, ORM is generally not addressed again until the date of ORM termination. However, causally related diagnoses may change over time, either expanding or retracting depending upon the circumstances in the claim. Accordingly, it is important to update the reported ICD-10 codes as necessary over the course of the claim.

ORM Termination Key to Cutting Off Liability to Medicare

Once ORM is accepted, CMS claims the right to recover against the applicable plan through the date of ORM termination. As such, recovery efforts by the CRC may happen years after the ORM was first reported. Further, if there is failure by the applicable plan to terminate ORM when appropriate, then the plan may receive repayment demands from CRC for time periods in which it has no liability to pay for medical treatment. An applicable plan may terminate ORM through the Section 111 Reporting process under the following situations:

Settlement with a release of medicals

No fault policy limit reached

Complete denial of the claim

Statute of limitations has run or medical benefits have otherwise been exhausted pursuant to state law

Judicial determination after a hearing on the merits finding no liability

Statement from treating physician – signed statement from the injured individual’s treating physician that he/she will require no further medical items or services associated with the claim/claimed injuries.

Keep in mind that closing a claim file is not a trigger for ORM termination unless it is accompanied by one of the above situations.

Providing CMS with an ORM termination gives a bookend to recovery by the CRC. If no termination date is provided, then CRC assumes the applicable plan remains liable for injury-related payments.

Recommendations for Ensuring Accurate ORM Reporting

The reporting of ORM acceptance and termination and defining accepted diagnosis codes is so important because it is the applicable plan’s admission of responsibility to pay for medical care during the reported time period and for the reported diagnoses. If an error is made in reporting or there is an omission in reporting, then it can result in attempts by Medicare to recover for conditional payments unrelated to the injury or for time periods during which the applicable plan is not liable. Errors in reporting can also lead to inappropriate denials in the payment of claimant’s medical care by Medicare or Medicare paying for medical care for which the applicable plan is responsible.

Recommendations to avoid these errors and omissions:

1. Train Claims Handlers on ORM Reporting: If a claims handler is responsible for inserting the data required for ORM reporting, then they require training as to when ORM acceptance and termination is to be reported and how to determine the appropriate diagnosis codes to report with ORM acceptance.

2. Effective Quality Assurance of ORM Reporting: Even with training, errors will occur. Additional resources placed into quality assurance of ORM reporting, such as double-checking claims for proper ORM termination and appropriate diagnosis code choices avoids the expenditure of additional resources at a later date to correct errors in reporting and correction of unnecessary recovery demands from the CRC. If you are an employer or carrier relying upon a TPA to report, it is especially recommended that a QA process be in place to check the data entered by the TPA.

3. Ensure Reporting Platform is Accurately Reporting: Section 111 Reporting is electronically based and requires a data exchange with Medicare. Errors can and will occur in this data exchange. Ensure you have a trusted and reliable reporting agent to assist with accurate reporting to Medicare.

Finally, if any correspondence is received from the CRC or the U.S. Treasury Department claiming conditional payment recovery it must be acted upon immediately. Do not assume the letter was issued in error and will simply go away. If you do not believe you are liable for the conditional payments for which the CRC is claiming recovery, first confirm you have correctly reported ORM and then work with your MSP compliance partner to appropriately dispute the charges.

For questions stemming from this article please contact Dan Anders at (888) 331-4941 Daniel.anders@towermsa.com.

For Media Inquires, Contact:

Helen King Patterson
813.690.4787
helen@kingknight.com

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