Recovery audit contractors open to reason

Friday, June 21, 2013

MiraVista, in collaboration with providers of Group 3 products, successfully initiated discussions with the Jurisdiction C RAC, Connolly Healthcare, to secure modifications to a disruptive automated review. The implications of the exercise should bring hope to all suppliers that auditing contractors can be rational and make responsive changes when merited.

Providers of Group 3 air-fluidized beds in Jurisdiction C started getting bombarded with automated recoupments from Connolly Healthcare in December, and they could not figure out why the claims were being recouped without development.

When researching a RAC audit, the first step is to visit the RAC website and locate the CMS-approved audit issues. We discovered that the websites post a shortened version of the audit issues, and with automated reviews, providers do not get development letters that contain the full version of the audit issue direct from the RAC. Therefore, they do not get an opportunity to view the full description of the audit logic. Attempts to figure out the true root of the audit logic were elusive until a dialogue began with senior RAC officials.

Connolly officials directed us to a very helpful, but widely unknown resource. Connolly has a Provider Portal in place that provides access to audit activity for a given provider. This portal is the only place where providers can find the detailed description of auditing logic on automated reviews. If you service Jurisdiction C beneficiaries, you can log in yourself and view the provider-specific data the RAC maintains for your company using your PTAN, state, and a CCN that has been pulled for RAC review by visiting the following link: When you log into the portal, you can see the history of all the claims audited by this contractor, dollar amounts, service dates, status of the review, and a detailed rationale for the edit. This data can also be exported to Excel. Through the portal, providers can see other detailed elements, such as the maximum number of complex reviews the RAC can pull for your company in a 45-day period (as this is provider-specific; limited to 10% of your annual volume of claims submission in a year).

Upon viewing the detailed rationale, we discovered that the claims were being recouped based on a provision in the LCD that requires the use of a Group 2 support surface 30 days prior to initiation of therapy with a Group 3 bed. We dug in a little bit deeper and researched claims from the audited sample and found that most fell into two categories: 1) either the patient had a Group 2 in their history that had capped out and was no longer actively billing, or 2) the patient obtained a Group 2 from another insurer. In all cases, the patients had used a Group 2 support surface prior to the Group 3, but the problem was that none of the claims had a payment for a Group 2 immediately before the first service date for the Group 3.

Connolly was receptive to meeting with us to discuss our concerns that the logic structure was targeting too broad a sample. There are a number of logical reasons that there will be no payment history immediately preceding the Group 3 delivery. In our dialogue with Connolly, we pointed out that many patients will be on Group 2 therapy for extended periods of time prior to initiation of Group 3 therapy. The Group 2 products are capped rentals and they convert to purchases after 13 months of rental. Connolly officials actively listened to our concerns and agreed the logic should be modified. As a result, the audit was converted from a fully automated review to a semi-automated review. Connolly additionally modified the logic so that if it finds any history of a Group 2 in the data they have available, the claim will not be targeted for recoupment or further review. However, when these provisions cannot be established, the claims will be developed for a complex review/response from the provider to prove the patient had used the Group 2 prior to the Group 3. This is a huge win for providers in this product space.

Audits aren’t going anywhere, and in the course of an increasing number of audits, mistakes will be made by contractors and providers alike. The key take-away here is that it is possible to establish a reasonable dialogue with contractors. These dialogues can lead to a meaningful modification of audits with unintended consequences.

Andrea Stark is a reimbursement expert for MiraVista in Columbia, S.C. Email her at