Year #2 Report on Medicare Fraud Prevention System
On June 25, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued and certified, as required by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (SBJA) their second implementation year report for the Fraud Prevention System (FPS) along with a press release. By way of background, CMS is under pressure from Congress and the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) to enhance their health care fraud, abuse and waste prevention and detection success through the use of predictive analytics technologies while at the same time monitoring the expenditures and costs by government contractors and auditors such as ZPICs to prevent fraud. Last October, GAO published a Report concerning CMS’s Medicare Program Integrity titled, “Contractors Reported Generating Savings but CMS Could Improve Its Oversight.”
CMS and OIG’s Report to Congress on the FPS responds to many, but not all, of GAO’s criticisms. Here are a few of the noteworthy findings and observations in the Report:
- CMS reports that they “identified or prevented” $210.7 million in Medicare payments attributed to FPS. This is a return on investment of $5 to $1 for the second implementation year and an increase ROI from Year 1.
- OIG disagrees with CMS’s use of “identified savings” to calculate the success of the FPS and instead recommends using “adjusted savings” as a measure of savings and return on investment related to the Department’s use of FPS.
- Under OIG’s adjusted savings analysis, OIG only certified $54.2 million of the $210.7 million as attributed to the Department’s use of FPS.
- OIG found that the “Department’s use of its predictive analytics technologies resulted in a return on investment of $1.34 (not $5) for every dollar spent on the FPS.
- Based on criticism received by OIG and GAO, CMS reported that they changed the methodology to require ZPICs (Zone Program Integrity Contractors) to submit provider-specific outcome data to be able to conduct more quality control reviews prior to reporting savings.
- OIG disagreed with CMS and stated, “[A]lthough the Department has made significant progress in addressing the challenges of measuring actual and projected savings, its procedures were not always sufficient to ensure that its contractors provided and maintained reliable data to always support FPS savings.” Interestingly, OIG initially included a much stronger statement but revised the final statement based on CMS’s objections. The original statement was “[T]he Department could not ensure that its contractors always provided and maintained reliable data to support FPS savings.”
- CMS expects that future activities of the FPS will substantially increase savings by expanding the use of predictive analytics and modeling beyond identifying FRAUD and into areas of WASTE and ABUSE. This will require more refined predictive models and modifications from insights from field investigators, policy experts, clinicians, and data analysts. In Year 3, CMS will convene workgroups with federal agency, states, and private partners to develop and expand FPS’s capabilities.
- In Year 3, CMS also will explore the cost-effectiveness and feasibility of expanding predictive analytics technology to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CMS anticipates working with State Medicaid Agencies to train and explore opportunities for expanding predictive analytics.
Practice Tip: CMS’s FPS is more fully integrated into the Medicare FPS payment system and allows CMS to monitor and deny individual claims in the prepayment stage. ZPICs and other government contractors will continue to be the government’s “boots on the ground” but they will be armed with better information and real time data to investigate. Providers need to take any and all inquiries by ZPICs seriously. Anticipate more coordinated investigations by the FBI, ZPICs, States AGs, State Medicaid Fraud Agencies, and Federal agencies and faster freezing or rejections of provider claims. Anticipate the expansion of FPS’s predictive analytics to the areas of waste and abuse.