In the complex world of Medicare reimbursement, there are a multitude of payment formulae, mathematical adjustments, and reimbursement calculations that translate congressional policy into operational payments for hospital providers. But sometimes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) doesn’t get the math right. Recently, the US District Court for the District of Columbia found that academic medical centers have been subject to one such calculation error that implicates the amount such teaching hospitals receive as payment in support of direct graduate medical education (GME). Milton S. Hershey Med. Ctr. v. Xavier Becerra, Civ. Action No. 19-2680 (May 17, 2021). Based on the court’s reasoning, teaching hospitals operating above their full-time equivalent (FTE) resident cap may have been systematically underpaid as a result of the regulatory payment formula for determining the weighted FTE amount of residents used to calculate the GME payment. Other hospitals have recently followed Hershey Medical into the DC District Court seeking similar decisions.
A notable headline from the August 12 MLN Connects Newsletter for healthcare providers states “CMS Resumes Targeted Probe & Educate Program.” Designed to help providers reduce claim denials and appeals, CMS suspended prepayment reviews under the Targeted Probe and Educate (TPE) program in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) in March 2020. But unlike post-payment audits which have been active since CMS authorized its contractors to begin new audits in August 2020, TPE prepay reviews remained on hold.