CMS “Pauses” Prior Authorization Model for Scheduled, Repetitive Non-Emergency Ambulance Transportation
CMS released published a guidance document summarizing some of the steps that it has taken to relieve the administrative burden on health care providers and suppliers during the current public health emergency. As part of that document, CMS indicated that it will be “pausing” the Prior Authorization Model for scheduled, repetitive non-emergency ambulance transports. Under this program, ambulance suppliers are required to seek and obtain prior authorization for the transportation of repetitive patients beyond the third round-trip in a 30-day period. Absent prior authorization, claims will be stopped for pre-payment review. The Prior Authorization Model is currently in place in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
CMS indicated that this pause went into effect as of March 29, 2020, and will continue for as long as the current public health emergency continues. During this pause, claims for repetitive, scheduled, non-emergency transports will not be stopped for pre-payment review if the prior authorization has not been requested and obtained prior to the fourth round-trip. However, CMS indicated that claims submitted and paid during the pause without prior authorization will be subject to postpayment review.
CMS further indicated that during this period: (1) the MACs will continue to review any prior authorization requests that have previously been submitted and (2) that ambulance suppliers may continue to submit new prior authorization requests.
Ambulance suppliers in these areas will have to make a business decision on whether to continue to request prior authorization during the current crisis. Please note that there are significant benefits to obtaining prior authorization for your repetitive patient population. Specifically, claims that are submitted based on an affirmative prior authorization decision are excluded from future medical review.
The existing Prior Authorization Model is scheduled to expire on December 1, 2020. CMS has indicated that, at the present time, it does not plan an extension beyond December 1, 2020. CMS further indicated that the Prior Authorization Model will not be expanded beyond the current states and territories during the public health emergency.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), coronavirus, COVID-19, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, prior authorization, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia