CMS failed to collect 80% of overpayments, auditors say
Federal auditors found that the CMS failed to collect about 80% of the $416 million that was specifically identified as overpayments in prior audits. Furthermore, auditors said the CMS could not prove that the 20% said to be collected was actually received. In response, the CMS said that just over half of the overpayments identified by HHS’ inspector general’s office was included in audits that were released after the statute of limitations had expired for reopening the claims, making collections impossible under current laws and regulations. But the agency pledged to strengthen its systems. “We are committed to collecting overpayments in Medicare and Medicaid, and we are working to improve tracking and reporting, and coordinating with OIG to better identify overpayments before the look-back period has passed,” a CMS spokesman said in an e-mail. The inspector general’s office said in a 26-page report that the CMS pledged to collect $416 million in overpayments identified in 154 audits between 2007 and 2009, yet $332 million remained uncollected as of October. The CMS agreed with a recommendation by the auditors to “pursue legislation” to extend the time when auditors can recover Medicare overpayments. Auditors also criticized the CMS’ explanations that its outside contractors had actually collected the $84 million they claimed. CMS officials said they took contractors’ reports of budget adjustments as proof of collections, but auditors said they could not verify the money had been received.