Medicare Providers: Are Your Claims Clean?
Posted by kemanuel
The federal regulations mandate that 90% of “clean claims” must be paid to the providers by 30-days. 42 CFR § 447.45. But, what if (the payor) doesn’t pay within 30-days? What if your claims are unclean? The problem is – who determines what is a clean claim? Your payor? Your MAC? If you bill 100 claims and are paid for 50 because 50 claims are denied as not being “clean,” how do you know whether 50 claims were actually unclean? If you disagree with whoever’s determination it is that says your claims aren’t clean, where do you appeal that decision? Can you appeal that determination? The answer is no. In an egregious case, you could litigate and argue that the MAC or whomever is not conducting their job properly.
The Medicare and Medicaid billing, reimbursement, and appeals processes are clear as mud and run contrary to American values and concepts, such as due process and property rights.
CMS codified a rule – “90% of clean claims must be paid to the provider by 30-days,” but never codified an appeal process to dispute decisions. A clean claim is defined as one that can be processed without obtaining additional information from the provider of the service or from a third-party. It includes a claim with errors originating in the State’s claims system. It does not include a claim from the provider who is under investigation for fraud or abuse, or a claim under review for medical necessity.
“Clean” does not mean perfect because the Social Security Act states that claims do not have to be 100% perfect to be “clean.” There is no rule or law that requires claims to be perfect. CMS’ failure to create a definition of clean or an appeal process for the determination of clean, places providers in a very uncomfortable position that their reimbursements are predicated on another entity’s subjective decision as whether the provider billed “clean” claims and no way to refute the allegations or defend themselves from what might be erroneous determinations that the claims were not “clean.”
In CMS Manuel System, Pub. 100-04 Medicare Claims Processing, dated July 20, 2007, CMS uses the phrase “other-than-clean” to describe an unclean claim. CMS also states that “other-than-clean” claims should be notified to the provider within 45 days. As in, you should be told of your uncleanliness within 45-days.
In Southern Rehabilitation Group, PLLC. v. Burwell, 683 Fed. Appx. 354 (6th Cir. 2017), a provider of inpatient rehabilitation health care services brought action against DHHS alleging fraud and other wrongful conduct, such not making timely payments (within 30-days), in processing claims for reimbursement under Medicare. DHHS argued that the unpaid claims were not “clean.” The Court held that the phrase under “clean claims” provision of the Medicare Act referring to treatment that “prevents timely” payment refers to treatment that delays it. The Court allowed DHHS to call claims “not clean,” and the provider had no recourse.
It just seems that so many determinations in Medicare/caid are subjective:
- “Credible” allegations of fraud. See blog.
- “Clean” claims
- Service notes are “compliant.”
- The patient should not have been designated as “inpatient”
- 75% “compliant” for three consecutive months. See blog.
- Managed Care Organizations terminating your contract. See blog.
Many determinations that adversely affect providers have no mechanism to disagree, push back, or appeal.
About kemanuelMedicare and Medicaid Regulatory Compliance Litigator
Posted on May 2, 2022, in CMS, Due process, Federal Law, Health Care Providers and Services, HHS, Knicole Emanuel, Medicaid Attorney, Medicare, Medicare Administrative Contractor, Medicare and Medicaid Provider Audits, Medicare Appeal Process, Medicare Attorney, Provider Appeals of Adverse Decisions for Medicare and Medicaid and tagged Clean Claims, Knicole Emanuel, Managed Care Organizations, Medicaid, Medicaid Attorney; Medicaid Lawyer; Medicare Attorney Medicare Lawyer, Medicare, Social Security Act. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.