CMS giveth and CMS taketh away. More than $21 billion in payments under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and more than $10.1 billion in Medicaid EHR Incentive Program payments has been doled out between 2011 and 2015?but not every payment remains with its intended recipient. Contractors will perform audits to ensure that those eligible for the program can support their attestation through examination of supporting documentation to back a claim that a provider or hospital has fulfilled the requirements for meaningful use.
CMS contracted Figliozzi and Company to conduct pre- and postpayment desk audits of the meaningful use program.
"What we have been seeing from our clients' experience is Figliozzi is attempting to perform audits on 5% of attestations submitted to CMS," says David Holtzman, JD, CIPP, vice president of compliance at CynergisTek, Inc., in Austin, Texas.
Holtzman also notes a spike in state Medicaid offices and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) performing audits for those attesting to meaningful use. These audits are conducted on site by a team of auditors.
"Both Medicaid and Medicare meaningful use audits are pass-fail audits," Holtzman says. "Therefore, if any requirement or measure is not met, the result is that the provider or hospital will not receive the incentive payment in the case of a prospective audit or will be required to return any payment received for the prior period as a result of the audit."
Under the Affordable Care Act, the latter would be considered an overpayment by Medicare or Medicaid, and the provider or organization would be required to return the incentive dollars within 60 days or face fines and penalties subject to the False Claims Act.
"There is increased attention by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Office of Inspector General for investigating and prosecuting fraudulent attestations for meaningful use that results in incentive payments," Holtzman says. "I look at this as a claims recovery effort."
CMS may occasionally report on overall rates of audit failure by eligible providers and hospitals. However, it will not provide any specific guidance on how to resolve identified issues, Holtzman says. "Once the reporting year has ended, the attestation is filed or the hospital/provider selected for audit, no substantive changes are permitted," he says. "Best practices are to carefully review documentation for meaningful use attestation using internal experts or bring in a third-party reviewer to ensure accuracy."
The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program is a CMS pay-for-performance program that links the amount hospitals are paid to risk-adjusted readmission rates. Measures included in the program are claims based, which simply means that the ICD-10 codes we submit on our claims for payment are also used to assess our performance; our performance then impacts our payment.
Clinical documentation improvement (CDI) programs are prevalent in many hospitals and have evolved over the years. In 2014, 66% of 318 hospitals surveyed by AHIMA had a CDI program in place. If all surveyed facilities that planned to implement a CDI program did so, 80% of responding hospitals would have one. These numbers are likely even higher today as CDI programs become ever more relevant.
CDI programs can be a valuable bridge between clinical care and coding at hospitals. By concurrently reviewing clinical documentation in medical records and conferring with and educating providers, CDI teams continually support accurate documentation. When CDI program staff collaborate with providers and coders around improved documentation, the result is more accurate coding, reporting, quality metrics, and reimbursement.
Greater detail in clinical documentation is required since the introduction of ICD-10, making CDI efforts even more relevant. In addition, healthcare is steadily moving toward value-based purchasing and greater scrutiny from regulators and the public. With all of this in mind, it is more important than ever to get documentation and coding right. The daily activities surrounding CDI are crucial to successful outcomes and sustainability of facilities and healthcare systems.
The 2016 OPPS final rule includes the first negative payment update for the system. CMS finalized its proposal to reduce the conversion factor by 2% to account for its overestimation of dollars for packaged labs built into the 2014 APC rates, despite congressional and provider pressure to not proceed with this payment reduction.
As we celebrate our 30th year of delivering you the latest in HIM, we would like to invite you to celebrate the HIM profession with us. Each month this year, HIM Briefings (formerly Medical Records Briefing) will include a special feature that highlights the changes to our publication and the HIM profession over the years.