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. Summer 2013;39(4):1-14.

The Impact of RAC Audits on US Hospitals

  • PMID: 24003757

The Impact of RAC Audits on US Hospitals

Jeffrey P Harrison et al. J Health Care Finance. .


The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) authorized a three-year demonstration program using recovery audit contractors (RACs) to identify and correct improper payments in the Medicare Fee-For-Service program. More recently, Section 6411 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded the RAC program to include the Medicaid program. This shows the Cent ers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) believe RAC audits are a cost-effective method to ensure health care providers are paid correctly and thereby protect the Medicare Trust Fund. RAC audits are highly complex and require significant manpower to handle the large volume of requests received during a short period of time. Additionally, the RAC audit appeal process is complicated and requires a high level of technical expertise. The demonstration project found that RAC audits resulted in sizeable amounts of overpayments collected ("take-backs") from many providers. This research study assesses the potential impact of the RAC audit program on US acute care hospitals. Data obtained from CMS show that RAC overpayments collected for FY 2010 were $75.4 million, increased to $797.4 million in FY 2011, and increased to $986.2 million in the first six months of FY 2012. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA) RACTrac audit survey, the vast majority of these collections represent complex denials where hospitals are required to provide medical record documents in support of their billed claims. This study found that the RAC audit program collections are increasing significantly over time. As a result, these collections are having a significant negative impact on the profitability of US hospitals.

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