Lawmakers Knock Medicare Response to Watchdog Recommendations


It’s usually polite to address recommendations as you receive them, especially when they come for a trusted source, but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services doesn’t appear to subscribe to this notion. The agency has failed to address more than 150 recommendations made by the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and Republican lawmakers are pushing for more action.

The CMS could begin to pare down the backlog by focusing on implementing 12 recommendations during the coming year, according to a recent letter sent to the agency by House Energy and Commerce committee leadership. The recommendations include requiring surety bonds for home health agencies, requiring Medicare Part D plan sponsors to report potential fraud to the CMS, and ensuring that state Medicaid agencies consult the list of excluded individuals and entities when enrolling new health-care providers.

The letter is likely to have little impact on the CMS, Ellyn Sternfield, a health-care attorney with Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC in Washington, told me.

“CMS has historically shrugged off OIG recommendations, and while the committee may have just learned about the number of OIG recommendations never acted on, the fact is that for more than 10 years the OIG has published a compendia of its unimplemented recommendations,” Sternfield said.

The letter was signed by E&C Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who chair the E&C Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the E&C Subcommittee on Health, respectively. The CMS was asked to respond by July 14 if they intend on implementing the 12 recommendations.

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