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OIG: $540 million in Medicare overpayments is not recoverable

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 15, 2013

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More than $540 million in Medicare overpayments in 2010 cannot be recouped by the federal government, a report by the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General stated.

The amount is a fraction of the $9.6 billion overpaid to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contractors that year, but the OIG has recommended the agency make several changes to improve collections efforts. The July 1 OIG report found CMS had difficulty retrieving detailed data about overpayments to many of its 39 CMS contractors.

“CMS could provide detailed data for only seven contractors, representing 22% of Medicare payments,” the report stated. “Moreover, no provider type was identified in 54% of [currently not collectible] overpayments for these seven contractors. Without this detailed information, CMS cannot target its efforts to collect overpayments.”

Money owed to Medicare might not be recoverable for various reasons. In some instances, correct addresses for health professionals and others were unavailable, or demand letters seeking the return of funds went unanswered when the recipients had gone out of business.

The OIG recommendations included using tax identification numbers to identify and help collect overpayments, which is a practice used by the Treasury Dept.

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