CMS lowers RAC medical record request limits

As hospitals and auditors clash over legislation to cap medical records requests for Medicare recovery auditors (RACs), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has adjusted the limits for additional documentation requests (ADR) in the RAC program, AHA News Now reported.

In particular, CMS has reduced the minimum number of documents RACs can request from hospitals and providers other than physicians and suppliers, according to the update issued Wednesday.

Starting April 15, RACs can request a minimum of 20 records in a 45-day period, down from the prior 35-record minimum.

CMS also lowered the limit for claim type; now RACs can only use 75 percent of a hospital's record request limit on a particular type of claim, such as inpatient, which is down from the previous 100 percent.

For example, if a hospital submitted inpatient, outpatient and inpatient psychiatric facility claims, the recovery auditor can use up to 75 percent of the ADR from one of those claim types, while the remaining 25 percent can be requested from any or all of the other types, CMS noted.

The agency also maintains its ability to give RACs permission to exceed the record request limits. The maximum number of requests per 45 days remains at 400. Providers with more than $100 million in Medicare severity diagnosis-related group payments still will have a cap of 600 documents.

The reintroduced Medicare Audit Improvement Act would cap additional documentation requests to 2 percent of hospital claims, with a maximum of 500 ADRs every 45 days, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The American Hospital Association has again given its support to the bill, which aims to alleviate the administrative burdens of handling medical record requests, especially for small, rural hospitals.

To learn more:
- here's the AHA News Now brief
- here's the CMS update (.pdf)
- check out the RAC program