RACs to Begin with Automated Reviews

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) hopes to start Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) automated reviews in late June and July, with more complex reviews rolling out later, according to a May 29 Health Leaders report. CMS expects to begin certain complex reviews like coding and DRG validation this fall. Medical necessity complex reviews will not begin until early 2010.

“The automated reviews are less burdensome on the provider, because there’s no request for medical records,” said Marie Casey, deputy director of the Division of Recovery Audit Operations at CMS, in the news item. “They’re also easier for the RACs to manage.”

The delay for medical necessity auditing is due to the complexity of the reviews. “We’re delaying because it’s more difficult,” Casey said. “We are really trying to ensure that when there is a difference of opinion [on the medical necessity determination of the case], the RAC clearly documents their rationale.”

The delay will also help CMS roll out an issue review team, a group comprised of members from various agency divisions that will look at policy questions, such as whether the RACs have been correct in the interpretation of coding guidelines. These teams will look comprehensively at the questions before approving new issues for RAC review, according to Kathleen Wallace, a CMS representative who spoke at a May 28 Region D RAC training session held in Helena, MT.

When record requests do come, they will start sporadically but eventually fall into a pattern, at least in Region D, said HealthDataInsights president and CEO Andrea Denko, during the Helena training session.

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