Among the areas of potential interest for providers, the newly released guidance addresses the RACs' treatment of the discussion period, according to Michael Taylor, MD, vice president of clinical operations at Executive Health Resources in Newtown Square, PA.
"When the discussion period first rolled out, CMS and the RAC contractors were heavily promoting it. It could be done in a verbal format, but now, it is clear that discussion period has to be in a written format. If the provider is pursuing discussion, and an appeal is filed during that time period, the RAC is charged—at that point—with ending the discussion period," said Taylor.
He continued, "So providers are going to have to make the choice of going right into the appeals process or using the discussion period first, because providers could find it fruitless to do this at the same time because of the new policy."
With this new change, providers will have to take more of a targeted approach. If a provider seeks to appeal early in the process to prevent recoupment, managing timelines becomes crucial. Depending on the timeliness of correspondence with the RACs, providers may opt not to use the discussion period because it may slow their process down and it could put their ability to file that first level appeal in time to prevent recoupment in jeopardy, according to Taylor.