There is hereby established the Medicare Integrity Program (in this section referred to as the “Program”) under which the Secretary shall promote the integrity of the medicare program by entering into contracts in accordance with this section with eligible entities, or otherwise, to carry out the activities described in subsection (b).
The Secretary shall by regulation provide for the limitation of a contractor’s liability for actions taken to carry out a contract under the Program, and such regulation shall, to the extent the Secretary finds appropriate, employ the same or comparable standards and other substantive and procedural provisions as are contained in section 1320c–6 of this title.
If the repayment, within 30 days by a provider of services or supplier, of an overpayment under this subchapter would constitute a hardship (as described in subparagraph (B)), subject to subparagraph (C), upon request of the provider of services or supplier the Secretary shall enter into a plan with the provider of services or supplier for the repayment (through offset or otherwise) of such overpayment over a period of at least 6 months but not longer than 3 years (or not longer than 5 years in the case of extreme hardship, as determined by the Secretary). Interest shall accrue on the balance through the period of repayment. Such plan shall meet terms and conditions determined to be appropriate by the Secretary.
In the case of a provider of services or supplier that is determined to have received an overpayment under this subchapter and that seeks a reconsideration by a qualified independent contractor on such determination under section 1395ff(b)(1) of this title, the Secretary may not take any action (or authorize any other person, including any medicare contractor, as defined in subparagraph (C)) to recoup the overpayment until the date the decision on the reconsideration has been rendered. If the provisions of section 1395ff(b)(1) of this title (providing for such a reconsideration by a qualified independent contractor) are not in effect, in applying the previous sentence any reference to such a reconsideration shall be treated as a reference to a redetermination by the fiscal intermediary or carrier involved.
Insofar as the determination on such appeal is against the provider of services or supplier, interest on the overpayment shall accrue on and after the date of the original notice of overpayment. Insofar as such determination against the provider of services or supplier is later reversed, the Secretary shall provide for repayment of the amount recouped plus interest at the same rate as would apply under the previous sentence for the period in which the amount was recouped.
For purposes of this subsection, the term “medicare contractor” has the meaning given such term in section 1395zz(g) of this title.
For purposes of this paragraph, the term “consent settlement” means an agreement between the Secretary and a provider of services or supplier whereby both parties agree to settle a projected overpayment based on less than a statistically valid sample of claims and the provider of services or supplier agrees not to appeal the claims involved.
The Secretary shall establish, in consultation with organizations representing the classes of providers of services and suppliers, a process under which the Secretary provides for notice to classes of providers of services and suppliers served by the contractor in cases in which the contractor has identified that particular billing codes may be overutilized by that class of providers of services or suppliers under the programs under this subchapter (or provisions of subchapter XI insofar as they relate to such programs).
Subject to subparagraph (C), if a medicare contractor decides to conduct a post-payment audit of a provider of services or supplier under this subchapter, the contractor shall provide the provider of services or supplier with written notice (which may be in electronic form) of the intent to conduct such an audit.
The Secretary shall make available in a timely manner any data and statistical information collected by the Medi-Medi Program to the Attorney General, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the States (including a Medicaid fraud and abuse control unit described in section 1396b(q) of this title). Such information shall be disseminated no less frequently than quarterly.
The Secretary may not enter into a contract under paragraph (1) with a recovery audit contractor unless the contractor has staff that has the appropriate clinical knowledge of, and experience with, the payment rules and regulations under this subchapter or the contractor has, or will contract with, another entity that has such knowledgeable and experienced staff.
The Secretary may not enter into a contract under paragraph (1) with a recovery audit contractor to the extent the contractor is a fiscal intermediary under section 1395h of this title, a carrier under section 1395u of this title, or a medicare administrative contractor under section 1395kk–1 of this title.
In awarding contracts to recovery audit contractors under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall give preference to those risk entities that the Secretary determines have demonstrated more than 3 years direct management experience and a proficiency for cost control or recovery audits with private insurers, health care providers, health plans, under the Medicaid program under subchapter XIX, or under this subchapter.
The Secretary shall annually submit to Congress a report on the use of recovery audit contractors under this subsection. Each such report shall include information on the performance of such contractors in identifying underpayments and overpayments and recouping overpayments, including an evaluation of the comparative performance of such contractors and savings to the program under this subchapter.
After application of paragraph (1)(C), the Secretary shall retain a portion of the amounts recovered by recovery audit contractors for each year under this section which shall be available to the program management account of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for purposes of, subject to subparagraph (B), carrying out sections 1395l(z), 1395m(l)(16), and 1395kk–1(a)(4)(G) of this title, carrying out section 514(b) of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, and implementing strategies (such as claims processing edits) to help reduce the error rate of payments under this subchapter. The amounts retained under the preceding sentence shall not exceed an amount equal to 15 percent of the amounts recovered under this subsection, and shall remain available until expended.
Nothing in subparagraph (A) shall reduce amounts available for payments to recovery audit contractors under this subsection.
Under contracts entered into under this section with Medicare drug integrity contractors (including any successor entity to a Medicare drug integrity contractor), the Secretary shall authorize such contractors to directly accept prescription and necessary medical records from entities such as pharmacies, prescription drug plans, MA–PD plans, and physicians with respect to an individual in order for such contractors to provide information relevant to the determination of whether such individual is an at-risk beneficiary for prescription drug abuse, as defined in section 1395w–104(c)(5)(C) of this title.
For purposes of carrying out this subsection, subject to subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall authorize MEDICs to respond to requests for information from PDP sponsors and MA organizations, State prescription drug monitoring programs, and other entities delegated by such sponsors or organizations using available programs and systems in the effort to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse.
Information may only be disclosed by a MEDIC under subparagraph (A) if the disclosure of such information is permitted under the Federal regulations (concerning the privacy of individually identifiable health information) promulgated under section 264(c) of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (42 U.S.C. 1320d–2 note).