I know that I usually begin my writings in this space with an amusing anecdote, a philosophical musing or a rhetorical dose of gastric acid directed at some unsuspecting party in the universe. Today, I’m going to begin with a few plugs, as I suddenly have quite the personal appearance schedule.
On September 17th, I shall be speaking at the 13th Annual Midwest Coding & Practice Management Symposium, presented by the Wisconsin Medical Society. I’ll be speaking on current audit trends for physician practices on the afternoon of the 17th as the attendees struggle to stay awake from the fabulous lunches usually served at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. I’ll also be generally available on the 18th, attending other informative sessions and extolling the virtues of water slides and the sweet bar in the lobby.
On October 12th, I shall be presenting at the 12th Annual National Medical Billing Conference, presented by the American Medical Billing Association, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I’ll be talking about (good guess) government audits in a breakout session, and will also lend my time, expertise and hair to a guest panel, in which I answer questions asked by the audience. For those attending, random knowledge and music trivia are my strong suits.
While I’m on the subject of Oklahoma (which, admittedly, unless I’m discussing Woody Guthrie or Hoyt Axton, rarely occurs, so let’s seize the opportunity), something rather important occurred in the Recovery Audit universe with a connection to the Sooner State in the past week. Dan Boren, the 2nd-generation political scion who represents the 2nd Congressional District in Oklahoma, called for an examination of the methods currently being utilized by Connolly, Inc. and other RAC contractors. Specifically, Rep. Boren is concerned about the financial impact of RAC audits on rural hospitals, referring to Connolly’s practices as “overzealous predatory tactics” and goes on to ask that key policy-makers ”consider placing a moratorium on the amount of funds recouped from rural hospitals”.
With regard to the attentions of the Legislative Branch, I can only say that this is long overdue. The only regret that I have in Rep. Boren’s letters to CMS and two Congressional committees is that he restricts his comments to the effects of the RAC program on rural hospitals. Hospitals of all stripes across the country are overburdened by the RAC process. From the increase in documentation requests, to a Medicare appeals process that has been brought to its knees due to the high volume of RAC activity, it is clear that most hospitals are struggling to keep their head above water with a RAC process that in many cases is not part of a facility’s budget.
It will be interesting to see what effect this first Congressional salvo will have on the conversation. The Boren Letters have already been a discussion point among RAC coordinators nationwide, mostly approached with optimism that comes with the realization that someone at a state hospital association finally had success in moving concerns up the ladder. Yet with the glacial pace of Congressional action, I would predict that I shall have more than one additional personal appearance scheduled long before credible federal action on the RAC problem sees the light of day.