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Welcome to the Journey to Revenue Integrity blog.

The Revenue Integrity blog is the place to go for discussions related to the many facets of preventing revenue leakage. Here, Craneware experts share their thoughts and report on industry trends… and encourage you join the conversation with your own unique experiences and opinions. Craneware client or not, there's something for everyone to learn and discuss.

68% Settlement Offer — Most Will Take It

by Craneware31. October 2014 09:47

On October 29 the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) held a full-day Medicare Appellant Forum with key stakeholders both present and calling in. OMHA Chief Administrative Law Judge Nancy Griswold facilitated the event discussing the current state of the appeals program and its future.

Discussion centered on initiatives to make a system that is more productive in getting appeals managed before claims in appeal get to the level of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

In the past, there has been no computer system for managing appeals through the process. A short-term computer system is being built for use over a period of about 24-months while a long-term system can be developed. The new computer system will provide a portal that will enable hospitals and health systems to log in and see exactly where their claim stands in the appeals process. One interesting point revealed was that the average time a claim now spends in the appeal process is 514 days.

This news arrives on the eve of hospital and health systems deciding whether or not they will take CMS’ settlement offer of 68% of their claims’ value. In talking with health systems, we’re hearing most say that they’ll be taking the settlement offer. All must decide by the Oct. 31 deadline.

Initially, health systems were about equally divided in terms of those who would accept the settlement, those who would not, and those undecided. As the number of the undecided gets smaller by the minute, we’re finding that those who originally decided they would not take the settlement remain very firm in their decision. They will proceed without payment until their appeals can get through the process and be decided.

Global Settlement Offer: Do You Accept or Not? Get the Handouts

by Craneware10. October 2014 14:55

Craneware partners with Appeal Academy to bring the latest “conversation” around events in the industry. This week a very informative conversation was presented by facilities on both sides of the settlement argument. Today’s conversational presentation brings due diligence to the forefront and offers excellent insight into the settlement. The presentation can be found at: http://appealacademy.com/this-week-on-finallyfriday/

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CMS 68% Settlement Offer Scorecard Worksheet

by Craneware1. October 2014 13:10

Oct 8 Update: CMS has updated the FAQ regarding the 68% settlement of appealed claims on 10/8/14. The new website link for the updated FAQ can be found at: http://cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Monitoring-Programs/Medicare-FFS-Compliance-Programs/Medical-Review/Downloads/Hospital_Appeals_SettlementFAQs_10082014_508.pdf

As covered in an earlier post, CMS has set the deadline for hospitals to decide whether to take the 68% settlement offer on claims held up in appeal as Oct 31, 2014.

In a similar vein, Craneware has created a 68% Settlement Scorecard which covers the major factors we believe hospital financial staff should consider before deciding to settle.

Download Craneware’s 68% Settlement Scorecard

Before taking the settlement, we recommend hospitals ask and answer the following questions:

Does your hospital have significant dollars at risk or a high volume of outstanding appeals?

Hospitals with a large number of appeals and/or a significant amount of revenue tied up in the appeals process may benefit from seeing the appeals through the ALJ process. Interest payments alone could outweigh any reason to settle.

Factors to Consider

Score

Volume of Outstanding Appeals

Low

0

Moderate

5

High

10

InSight Audit: Audit Activity Dashboard Report, Risk of Loss Report

Dollars at Risk

Low

0

Moderate

5

High

10

InSight Audit: Audit Activity Dashboard Report, Risk of Loss Report

 

Was your hospital’s appeal strategy based on an internal review process that appealed only strong cases, writing-off weaker cases?

Hospitals that had a denial review strategy and chose to appeal only those cases with a reasonable likelihood of success may not want to agree to a 32% reduction in payment and forfeit the Limitation on Recoupment 935 interest.  On the other hand, hospitals that appealed cases indiscriminately are promised 68% of the net payable amount.  In the end, this may result in a higher payment for these facilities.

Provider Appeal Strategy

Appealed all claims

0

Appealed most claims

5

Appealed only strong cases

10

InSight Audit: Risk of Loss Report

 

What was your recoupment strategy? Is your expected interest on a successful appeal financially substantive, or marginal?

If your facility allowed immediate recoupment of overpayments following receipt of Demand Letters, then your claims are not subject to 935 interest. Conversely, 935 interest is owed when claims were involuntarily recouped and you prevail at the ALJ level. For claims that wait years for an ALJ Hearing, this payment could be substantial. See Andrew Wachler’s post on interest at RACmonitor for more details.

Recoupment / Interest strategy

Proactively repaid overpayments or allowed recoupments day 41

0

Met some hold recoupment dates

5

Met all hold recoupment dates

10

InSight Audit: Audit Activity Dashboard Report (compare hold recoupment dates to appeal sent dates)

 

How badly do you need your money?

Strong appeals and long wait times will likely result in payments with greater than 100% value but it may be a very long time before you see that money.  But can you afford to wait? Hospitals that accept the settlement can expect reimbursement within 60 days of a fully executed agreement.

Immediacy

I need the money now

0

I’d like the money now, but I think I can do better than 68%

5

I am willing to wait and maximize my revenue

10

 

What is the cost associated with pursuing your appeals?

Hospitals with high cost associated with the pursuit of appeals may want to consider the settlement.  Those costs might include consultants, attorneys and expert witnesses. The cost of internal personnel time and resources should also be considered. 

Appeal Expenses

Very high cost to continue appeal. I plan on using attorneys for future appeals or will have additional costs

0

Moderate cost to appeal, I will have to pay contingency fees to attorneys if I take the settlement

5

Very low cost to continue appeal, my costs are prepaid

10

 

What was your prior ALJ success rate, and do you expect it to continue?

Hospitals with strong cases and a prior history of success at the ALJ level may not want to accept the settlement but; all organizations need to evaluate their past experience against what we know currently. According to AHA’s RACTrac, the average appeal success rate has dropped from 72% (Q1 2013) to 66% (Q1 2014).  In our experience representing clients we have seen the ALJs becoming increasingly savvy in relation to level of care determination and the success of cases vary depending on the judge assigned. In the future, the RACs may also be presenting to the ALJ more often.

Prior ALJ Success Rate

Low

0

Moderate

5

High

10

InSight Audit:Audit Activity Dashboard Report, Appeal Outcome Report

 

 Is time a factor?

The average processing time for appeals decided at the ALJ in fiscal year 2014 is 407 days.  Can your facility afford to wait that long for an outcome on your appeals?

Time Value

I need this off my plate; I don’t want to deal with it any more.

0

I’ve got limited time

5

I’m willing to wait for my ALJ hearings

10

 

Is there significant value in part B payments, with a high level of surgical implants?

The value of surgical implant claims rebilled to Part B is likely higher than 68% of the net value of the DRG.  Hospitals with a high volume of surgical implant claims may not want to settle. 

Value of Part B Payments

Low on average, (e.g., few implants)

0

Moderate

5

High on average, (e.g., many surgical implants)

10

InSight Audit:Audit Rebill Summary Report, Audit Activity Dashboard Report

 

What is your hospital’s volume of Medicare inpatient-only denials in appeal?

It is still hard to imagine that the RACs have denied claims for procedures on the Medicare inpatient-only list, but they have. It is even harder to imagine that the claims have remained in a denied status after appeal. Inpatient-only claims presented to ALJs have been overturned, typically with a reference that the procedure is “on the inpatient-only list." Hospitals with a large number of these denials may not want to accept the settlement.

Volume of Medicare Inpatient-Only Denials

Low

0

Moderate

5

High

10

InSight Audit: CPT Summary Report

 

Will taking the settlement have a substantial impact on your hospital’s Medicare Cost Report (DSH/IME/GME Payments)?

Accepting the 68% settlement leaves all of the claims in a denied status. The claims will not appear as Medicare paid inpatient claims in a provider’s Provider Statistical & Reimbursement (PS&R) report. Leaving the claims in a denied status will impact graduate medical education (GME), indirect medical education (IME), and disproportionate share (DSH) payments.   

Impact on Cost Report  (DSH/IME/GME Payments)

Minimal

0

Moderate

5

High

10

 

Are you able to meet the 10/31/14 deadline for settlement?

You need to decide quickly. If you’ve answered the previous questions and have decided that the short-term of benefits of knowing you will receive the 68% is in your hospital’s best interest, you’ll need to get working to meet the CMS requirements to file. Visit the most recent CMS page on the 68% settlement, download the Eligible Claim spreadsheet and the Administrative agreement. If you are completing CMS’s Settlement spreadsheet remember to include any cases you have withdrawn from the Appeal process but that have not yet been paid.  Those claims are eligible to be included in the Settlement.

Ability to Meet 10/31/14 Deadline

Definitely can do it

0

Probably can do it

5

Can’t do it

10

As you can tell, whether or not this settlement is in your hospital's best interests depends on many factors, and hospitals may weigh the importance of these factors differently. All of us at Craneware hope that if you do take the settlement, it is from a position of financial strength and a strategic choice, rather than a short-term stopgap out of necessity. 

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