Medicare providers exempt from fee-collection rule

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Medicare providers will not face penalties if they do not collect retroactive fee increases from beneficiaries as a result of changes to Medicare payment rates, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

A federal statute prohibits Medicare providers and suppliers from routinely waiving beneficiary cost-sharing amounts. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) increases some payment rates retroactive to July 1 of this year. Beneficiary liability for cost-sharing also could retroactively be increased, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said.

While the OIG has given providers the option of waiving retroactive beneficiary cost-sharing amounts, it points out that providers are not required to do so. To view the OIG's official guideline in this matter, visit http://www.oig.hhs.gov/fraud/docs/alertsandbulletins/2008/MIPPA_Policy_Statement.PDF.