The Secretary may enter into contracts with any eligible entity to serve as a medicare administrative contractor with respect to the performance of any or all of the functions described in paragraph (4) or parts of those functions (or, to the extent provided in a contract, to secure performance thereof by other entities).
The term “medicare administrative contractor” means an agency, organization, or other person with a contract under this section.
With respect to the performance of a particular function in relation to an individual entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, a specific provider of services or supplier (or class of such providers of services or suppliers), the “appropriate” medicare administrative contractor is the medicare administrative contractor that has a contract under this section with respect to the performance of that function in relation to that individual, provider of services or supplier or class of provider of services or supplier.
Making payments described in subparagraph (A) (including receipt, disbursement, and accounting for funds in making such payments).
Providing education and outreach to individuals entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, and providing assistance to those individuals with specific issues, concerns, or problems.
Performing the functions relating to provider education, training, and technical assistance.
Having in place an improper payment outreach and education program described in subsection (h).
Performing such other functions, including (subject to paragraph (5)) functions under the Medicare Integrity Program under section 1395ddd of this title, as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this subchapter.
In entering into contracts under this section, the Secretary shall assure that functions of medicare administrative contractors in carrying out activities under parts A and B do not duplicate activities carried out under a contract entered into under the Medicare Integrity Program under section 1395ddd of this title. The previous sentence shall not apply with respect to the activity described in section 1395ddd(b)(5) of this title (relating to prior authorization of certain items of durable medical equipment under section 1395m(a)(15) of this title).
Except as provided in laws with general applicability to Federal acquisition and procurement or in subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall use competitive procedures when entering into contracts with medicare administrative contractors under this section, taking into account performance quality as well as price and other factors.
The Secretary may renew a contract with a medicare administrative contractor under this section from term to term without regard to section 6101 of title 41 or any other provision of law requiring competition, if the medicare administrative contractor has met or exceeded the performance requirements applicable with respect to the contract and contractor, except that the Secretary shall provide for the application of competitive procedures under such a contract not less frequently than once every 10 years.
The Secretary may transfer functions among medicare administrative contractors consistent with the provisions of this paragraph. The Secretary shall ensure that performance quality is considered in such transfers. The Secretary shall provide public notice (whether in the Federal Register or otherwise) of any such transfer (including a description of the functions so transferred, a description of the providers of services and suppliers affected by such transfer, and contact information for the contractors involved).
Subject to clauses (ii) and (iii), the Secretary shall provide incentives for medicare administrative contractors to provide quality service and to promote efficiency.
The Secretary shall provide incentives for medicare administrative contractors to reduce the improper payment error rates in their jurisdictions.
No contract under this section shall be entered into with any medicare administrative contractor unless the Secretary finds that such medicare administrative contractor will perform its obligations under the contract efficiently and effectively and will meet such requirements as to financial responsibility, legal authority, quality of services provided, and other matters as the Secretary finds pertinent.
The Secretary shall develop contract performance requirements to carry out the specific requirements applicable under this subchapter to a function described in subsection (a)(4) and shall develop standards for measuring the extent to which a contractor has met such requirements. Such requirements shall include specific performance duties expected of a medical director of a medicare administrative contractor, including requirements relating to professional relations and the availability of such director to conduct medical determination activities within the jurisdiction of such a contractor.
In developing such performance requirements and standards for measurement, the Secretary shall consult with providers of services, organizations representative of beneficiaries under this subchapter, and organizations and agencies performing functions necessary to carry out the purposes of this section with respect to such performance requirements.
The Secretary shall make such performance requirements and measurement standards available to the public.
To the extent possible without compromising the process for entering into and renewing contracts with medicare administrative contractors under this section, the Secretary shall make available to the public the performance of each medicare administrative contractor with respect to such performance requirements and measurement standards.
The Secretary shall include, as one of the standards developed under subparagraph (A), provider and beneficiary satisfaction levels.
A contract with a medicare administrative contractor under this section may require the medicare administrative contractor, and any of its officers or employees certifying payments or disbursing funds pursuant to the contract, or otherwise participating in carrying out the contract, to give surety bond to the United States in such amount as the Secretary may deem appropriate.
A contract with any medicare administrative contractor under this section may contain such terms and conditions as the Secretary finds necessary or appropriate and may provide for advances of funds to the medicare administrative contractor for the making of payments by it under subsection (a)(4)(B).
The Secretary may not require, as a condition of entering into, or renewing, a contract under this section, that the medicare administrative contractor match data obtained other than in its activities under this subchapter with data used in the administration of this subchapter for purposes of identifying situations in which the provisions of section 1395y(b) of this title may apply.
No individual designated pursuant to a contract under this section as a certifying officer shall, in the absence of the reckless disregard of the individual’s obligations or the intent by that individual to defraud the United States, be liable with respect to any payments certified by the individual under this section.
No disbursing officer shall, in the absence of the reckless disregard of the officer’s obligations or the intent by that officer to defraud the United States, be liable with respect to any payment by such officer under this section if it was based upon an authorization (which meets the applicable requirements for such internal controls established by the Comptroller General of the United States) of a certifying officer designated as provided in paragraph (1) of this subsection.
No medicare administrative contractor shall be liable to the United States for a payment by a certifying or disbursing officer unless, in connection with such payment, the medicare administrative contractor acted with reckless disregard of its obligations under its medicare administrative contract or with intent to defraud the United States.
Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit liability for conduct that would constitute a violation of sections 3729 through 3731 of title 31.
Subject to subparagraphs (B) and (D), in the case of a medicare administrative contractor (or a person who is a director, officer, or employee of such a contractor or who is engaged by the contractor to participate directly in the claims administration process) who is made a party to any judicial or administrative proceeding arising from or relating directly to the claims administration process under this subchapter, the Secretary may, to the extent the Secretary determines to be appropriate and as specified in the contract with the contractor, indemnify the contractor and such persons.
The Secretary may not provide indemnification under subparagraph (A) insofar as the liability for such costs arises directly from conduct that is determined by the judicial proceeding or by the Secretary to be criminal in nature, fraudulent, or grossly negligent. If indemnification is provided by the Secretary with respect to a contractor before a determination that such costs arose directly from such conduct, the contractor shall reimburse the Secretary for costs of indemnification.
Indemnification by the Secretary under subparagraph (A) may include payment of judgments, settlements (subject to subparagraph (D)), awards, and costs (including reasonable legal expenses).
A contractor or other person described in subparagraph (A) may not propose to negotiate a settlement or compromise of a proceeding described in such subparagraph without the prior written approval of the Secretary to negotiate such settlement or compromise. Any indemnification under subparagraph (A) with respect to amounts paid under a settlement or compromise of a proceeding described in such subparagraph are conditioned upon prior written approval by the Secretary of the final settlement or compromise.
A medicare administrative contractor that performs the functions referred to in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of subsection (a)(4) (relating to determining and making payments) shall implement a contractor-wide information security program to provide information security for the operation and assets of the contractor with respect to such functions under this subchapter. An information security program under this paragraph shall meet the requirements for information security programs imposed on Federal agencies under paragraphs (1) through (8) of section 3544(b)  of title 44 (other than the requirements under paragraphs (2)(D)(i), (5)(A), and (5)(B) of such section).
In the case of a medicare administrative contractor covered by this subsection that has not previously performed the functions referred to in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of subsection (a)(4) (relating to determining and making payments) as a fiscal intermediary or carrier under section 1395h or 1395u of this title, the first independent evaluation conducted pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall be completed prior to commencing such functions.
In the case of a medicare administrative contractor covered by this subsection that is not described in clause (i), the first independent evaluation conducted pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall be completed within 1 year after the date the contractor commences functions referred to in clause (i) under this section.
The results of independent evaluations under subparagraph (A) shall be submitted promptly to the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services and to the Secretary.
The Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services shall submit to Congress annual reports on the results of such evaluations, including assessments of the scope and sufficiency of such evaluations.
The Secretary shall use specific claims payment error rates or similar methodology of medicare administrative contractors in the processing or reviewing of medicare claims in order to give such contractors an incentive to implement effective education and outreach programs for providers of services and suppliers.
Each medicare administrative contractor shall, for those providers of services and suppliers which submit claims to the contractor for claims processing and for those individuals entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, with respect to whom claims are submitted for claims processing, provide general written responses (which may be through electronic transmission) in a clear, concise, and accurate manner to inquiries of providers of services, suppliers, and individuals entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, concerning the programs under this subchapter within 45 business days of the date of receipt of such inquiries.
The Secretary shall ensure that each medicare administrative contractor shall provide, for those providers of services and suppliers which submit claims to the contractor for claims processing and for those individuals entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, with respect to whom claims are submitted for claims processing, a toll-free telephone number at which such individuals, providers of services, and suppliers may obtain information regarding billing, coding, claims, coverage, and other appropriate information under this subchapter.
The Secretary shall establish and make public standards to monitor the accuracy, consistency, and timeliness of the information provided in response to written and telephone inquiries under this subsection. Such standards shall be consistent with the performance requirements established under subsection (b)(3).
In conducting evaluations of individual medicare administrative contractors, the Secretary shall take into account the results of the monitoring conducted under subparagraph (A) taking into account as performance requirements the standards established under clause (i). The Secretary shall, in consultation with organizations representing providers of services, suppliers, and individuals entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, establish standards relating to the accuracy, consistency, and timeliness of the information so provided.
Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as preventing the Secretary from directly monitoring the accuracy, consistency, and timeliness of the information so provided.
In order to reduce improper payments under this subchapter, each medicare administrative contractor shall establish and have in place an improper payment outreach and education program under which the contractor, through outreach, education, training, and technical assistance or other activities, shall provide providers of services and suppliers located in the region covered by the contract under this section with the information described in paragraph (2). The activities described in the preceding sentence shall be conducted on a regular basis.
In order to assist medicare administrative contractors in carrying out improper payment outreach and education programs, the Secretary shall provide each contractor with a complete list of the types of improper payments identified by recovery audit contractors under section 1395ddd(h) of this title with respect to providers of services and suppliers located in the region covered by the contract under this section. Such information shall be provided on a time frame the Secretary determines appropriate which may be on a quarterly basis.
Communications with providers of services and suppliers under an improper payment outreach and education program are subject to the standards and requirements of subsection (g).