Revenue Cycle

Hold on to attestation documentation when preparing for a meaningful use audit

HIM Briefings, February 1, 2016

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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."


This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to HIM Briefings.

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