Saturday, November 30, 2002

AOBs: What you need

Q: What are the requirements for a valid signature for an assignment of benefits (AOB) and medical release statement for Medicare beneficiaries?

A: The DMERC manuals state for an AOB and medical release statement the following is required: The patient or authorized representative must sign and date the document; if the patient is physically or mentally unable to sign, the authorized representative must sign the patient's name followed by the representative's signature. The authorized rep must also include his address, relationship to the patient, reason the patient could not sign.

Employees of the HME company, hospital facility, nursing and/or home health agency do not meet the definition of an authorized representative. When an illiterate or physically handicapped patient signs by a mark, a witness must sign his/her name and his/her address next to the mark.

The following is an example of the language that should be used on the document, which must be retained in the patient's file: "I request that the payment of authorized Medicare benefits be made either to me or on my behalf for any services furnished me by (name of the provider). I authorize any holder of medical information about me to release to CMS and its agents any information needed to determine these benefits or benefits related to services." Incomplete signature information is causing many suppliers to have to refund money when they are audited by Medicare.

Jeanie Lane is an independent consultant with the MED Group. Reach her at 601-372-5191.