FAQ: How Can I Keep Up to Date with Medicare Review Contractors Review Targets?

on Tuesday, 30 October 2018. All News Items | FAQ


With so many different Contractors requesting medical records for review, how can I keep current with who is reviewing what?


You are correct, there are several Contractors requesting records and staying abreast of all of the issues can be a challenge. Here are some of the key players auditing Medicare records.

Office of Inspector General (OIG):

In June of 2017 OIG began updating their once Annual Work Plan on a monthly basis as the Work Planning Process is “dynamic and adjustments are made throughout the year to meet priorities and to anticipate and respond to emerging issues with the resources available. You can access the Work Plan on the OIG website at: https://oig.hhs.gov/reports-and-publications/workplan/index.asp

Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs):

In October 2017 CMS implemented a Target Probe and Educate (TPE) Review Process for the MACs. With this type of approach, MACs are focused on providers/suppliers who have the highest claim error rates or billing practices that vary significantly from their peers. In general, MACs will post a current Active Medical Log to their website. Depending on the MAC, this can sometimes be a challenge to find.

CMS has a MAC Website List page where you can select your state to go to your specific MACs website (https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Contracting/FFSProvCustSvcGen/MAC-Website-List.html#Alabama).

Recovery Audit Program (RACs)

The RAC’s review claims on a post-payment basis. CMS maintains a RAC webpage that provides links to the different RACs across the country, Proposed and Approved RAC Topics. A few of their current Approved Topics includes cardiac pacemakers, cataract surgery and implantable automatic defibrillators – ICDs. You can access the CMS RAC webpage at: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Monitoring-Programs/Medicare-FFS-Compliance-Programs/Recovery-Audit-Program/Index.html.

Supplemental Medical Review Contractor (SMRC)

Prior to February 13, 2018 Strategic Health Solutions was the SMRC. The SMRC performs reviews at the direction of CMS with the aim of lowering the improper payment rates. On February 13, 2018 CMS announced that Noridian Healthcare Solutions, LLC was awarded the new $227 million contract. CMS does have a SMRC webpage (https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Monitoring-Programs/Medicare-FFS-Compliance-Programs/Medical-Review/SMRC.html). However, at the time of this article neither CMS nor Noridian have posted any issues under review.

The Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT) Program

CMS implemented this program to measure improper payments in the Medicare Fee-for-Service program. Annually, the CERT selects a stratified random sample of approximately 40,000 claims submitted to Part A/B MACs and Durable Medical Equipment MACs (DMACs) for review. It is important to keep in mind that they report a measurement of payments not meeting Medicare requirements meaning their improper payment is not a “fraud rate.”  They post an Annual Report and Appendices to the CERT CMS webpage. Reviewing these reports can help you identify high find error prone cases types. For example, in the 2017 National Annual Report, the CERT reported Major Joint Replacement or Reattachment of Lower Extremity, Heart Failure and Shock, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease as three of the top 20 service types with the highest improper payment in the acute inpatient setting. The CERT webpage can be accessed at: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Monitoring-Programs/Medicare-FFS-Compliance-Programs/CERT/index.html.

Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organizations (BFCC-QIOs)

In 2015, CMS made the decision to move Short Stay reviews from the MACs to the BFCC-QIOs. These reviews are for a hospital length of stay less than two midnights and focus on ensuring doctors and hospitals are following the Part A payment policy for inpatient admission. If a hospital is identified as having a consistent trends of high denial rates, the process if for the BFCC-QIO to refer that hospital to the RACs who will conduct patient status reviews. You can locate your QIO at this website: https://qioprogram.org/contact.

Program for Evaluating Payment Patterns Electronic Report (PEPPER)

The PEPPER is an electronic data report containing a single hospital’s claims data statistics for MS-DRGs and discharges at risk for improper payment due to billing, coding and/or admission necessity issues. Each report compares a hospital to their state, MAC Jurisdiction and the nation. “The Office of Inspector General encourages hospitals to develop and implement a compliance program to protect their operations from fraud and abuse. As part of a compliance program, a hospital should conduct regular audits to ensure charges for Medicare services are correctly documented and billed. The Program for Evaluating Payment Patterns Electronic Report (PEPPER) can help guide the hospital’s auditing and monitoring activities.” In general, a hospital’s Quality Department can provide the report to key departments (i.e. Case Management and HIM).

MMP, Inc. Compliance Assessment Tool (CAT)

In January of 2017, the OIG, in collaboration with a group of compliance professionals, released a Resource Guide to measure the effectiveness of compliance programs.  Items 5.27-5.36 emphasize a Risk Assessment is key to developing an effective Compliance audit/work plan.  As you can see from the list of Contractors above, the number of Medicare risk areas to consider can be overwhelming and the financial risk is great. Medical Management Plus, Inc. (MMP) can help.  We can provide a Compliance Assessment Tool that summarizes the Medicare risk areas from Medicare review entities with your facility’s volumes, charges, and payments for each issue.  The report also includes information on coverage policies that define the medical necessity requirements for these issues.  And MMP is always available to help with audits or education.  If you are interested in learning more about our Compliance Assessment Tool or our audit and education services, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 205-941-1105.

Article by Beth Cobb

Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Services at Medical Management Plus, Inc.  Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. 

In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Assessment Tool. You may contact Beth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice.  Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.


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