Which entity incurs the loss of Medicare payments depends on your program’s payment structure. “For instance, TeamHealth contracts with our providers and pays them an hourly rate,” says Woods, explaining that the third-party contractor will suffer any loss of fees. “In a hospital-based program, the hospital might bill for the provider—and that provider may not get paid.”
Smaller HM groups might not have as much experience with these changes simply because they don’t hire physicians as often. “I did not know about this,” says Heidi Tessler, MD, president of the Colorado Hospitalist Company in Denver. “We contract with a billing company [for physician enrollments], and we would have been caught flat-footed with our next hire.”
Small groups could end up scrambling when they need to fill a position, especially if it’s a quick turnover. Groups that outsource their recruiting and billing should plan to communicate with those companies to expedite the enrollment process, Woods says.
TeamHealth, the largest provider of hospital-based clinical outsourcing in the U.S., has made numerous changes to accommodate the new enrollment rules, all the way up to a new business development group. “They now take this new rule into consideration when we are planning to start providing service,” Woods says. “Our recruiters are helping. They are ensuring that new providers fill out their paperwork and get it in. Understandably, physicians can let paperwork sit for a number of days.”
The good news is CMS has made it easier—and faster—to enroll through a Web-based portal called PECOS (Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System), which can be accessed at www.cms.hhs.gov/MedicareProviderSupEnroll/.
SHM has consolidated essential sources on the new rules to include:
- Medicare’s all-inclusive Web section on provider enrollment is www.cms.hhs.gov/medicareprovidersupenroll.
- The CMS manual on enrollment is at www.cms.hhs.gov. Click on “manuals,” then “Internet-only manuals”; select “Publication 100-08, Program Integrity Manual,” then “Chapter 10.”
- AMA provides an overview on its Web site, and, with the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), has developed a toolkit to guide physicians through the new rules. “The toolkit is probably the best resource available,” says Leslie Flores, principal in Nelson/Flores Associates, a national hospitalist management consulting firm and director of SHM’s Practice Management Institute. AMA and MGMA members can access the toolkit at www.mgma.com/policy/default.aspx?id=5712.
“SHM wants to make sure we communicate these new rules to our members,” says Flores, “and provide direction to resources they can use.” Check www.hospitalmedicine.org for the latest links and information. TH
Jane Jerrard is a freelance writer based in Chicago.