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Seven Things To Know When You Receive A Notice Of Investigation From The Department Of Health

Medicare Provider Number Termination

Medicare Provider Number Termination

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M.
Have you received a notice of termination of your Medicare provider number? Medicare has been revoking the Medicare provider numbers of many different Medicare providers including physicians, medical groups, home health agencies (HHAs), pharmacies, and durable medical equipment (DME) providers, based on returned mail sent to old addresses which have not been updated or based on inspection team site visits to old addresses.

Often the termination is retroactive to a much earlier date the change or move may have been determined to have occurred. Even if the mailing address is correct or was changed, the physical address of the business must have been updated, as well. It is usually an incorrect or old physical address which causes this to occur.

The effect of this termination includes:

  1. You are prohibited from reapplying to Medicare for at least two (2) years.

  2. You may have to pay back any monies received from the Medicare Program since the effective date of the termination (often many months prior to the notification letter).

  3. Other auditing agents may be notified such as the Medicare Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPIC) and the state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU).

  4. You may no longer contract with Medicare or anyone who does.

  5. You may and probably will be terminated from the approved provider panels of health insurance companies with which you are currently contracted.

  6. You may and probably will be terminated from skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and home health agencies (HHAs) with which you have contracts.

  7. You may and probably will have your clinical privileges terminated by hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) where you have them.

What you should not do includes:

  1. Don’t bother to write letters.

  2. Don’t bother to call the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

  3. Don’t bother to call the Medicare Administrative Contractor (or MAC) (previously called the “carrier” or “fiscal intermediary”).

  4. Don’t bother to file a new CMS Form 855 (application) or a CMS Form 855C (change).

  5. Don’t bother to start communicating with CMS or the MAC about your situation and what you need to do about it.

  6. Don’t bother to complete and file the short, one-page Corrective Action Plan (CAP) form that is on the CMS or Carrier/MAC website (unless you are close to the deadline and don’t have representation; then you must.)

What we recommend is:

  1. Immediately go into the Medicare Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) and the National Plan & Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) NPI Registry and print out a copy of the existing information. Then update or correct any incorrect information on you or your company, if you can. Print out the information as it existed before and print out the information after you have corrected it. (Note: Medicare will act shortly after the letter to you to terminate your access to this, so it may be too late).

  2. Hire an experienced health attorney immediately to assist you in putting together and submitting a comprehensive Corrective Action Plan (CAP), a Request for Reconsideration (RFR) and a request for an Appeal Hearing.

  3. Note that there is a thirty (30) day deadline for submitting the CAP and a sixty (60) day deadline for requesting an appeal hearing. Do not miss these.

  4. Implement formal, written internal policies and procedures to prevent a recurrence of the type of error, oversight or event that caused the termination. Train your management and staff on these.

The CAP should address every element of the applicable conditions of participation (COP) contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). It should include and be supported by all relevant documents, including but not limited to:

  1. Documents showing how the error occurred or past efforts to comply.

  2. Surety bond guarantees and documents (where required).

  3. Insurance coverage documents showing current coverage (general liability, professional liability, vehicle/auto liability).

  4. Current licenses and permits.

  5. Certificates of good standing and latest annual reports for any corporation or limited liability company.

  6. Print-outs from PECOS/NPPES Registry discussed above.

  7. Accident reports, insurance claims, police reports, fire reports or other documentation showing why a relocation was required (if this was an issue).

  8. Certificates of compliance training for you and your staff, if available.

  9. Copies of policies and procedures that you have adopted to keep there from being a recurrence of the situation that led to the termination.

  10. An authorization form for your consultant or attorney to represent you in the matter.

All copies should be clear, legible, complete, straight, no corners cut off an no handwriting on them, to the greatest extent possible.

Everything should be professionally assembled, typed, indexed and labeled. It should include a table of contents or an index. Number every page. It should be submitted to the MAC (or the agency/address given in the termination letter) by two (2) reliable means that document both sending and receipt. Keep copies of everything, including postal receipts, airbills, Federal Express labels, courier receipts, etc. It must be received at the address given in the termination letter you received (usually MAC) by the deadline given above. Keep copies of online tracking reports and return receipts.

In most instances, should you show a legitimate reason for the error, show you are currently in compliance, and show what remedial measures you have taken to keep there from being a repeat, the MAC will accept your corrective action plan (CAP) and will reinstate your Medicare number, as things stand currently.

About the Author

George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, offices in Altamonte Springs, Orlando and Pensacola, Florida.  He is admitted to practice in Florida, Louisiana, District of Columbia and a number of state and federal courts.  He is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in the legal specialty of Health Law.  Website:  1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, (407) 331-6620.

(revised 2/29/2012)
This article is for information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Always check for changes and updates in the laws and regulations.

© Copyright 2012 George F. Indest III, Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law, The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714. Phone: (407) 331-6620. All rights reserved.