Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), citing a Government Accountability Office report, urged the CMS to slow down its plans to transfer Medicare Part A and B claims processing to outside contractors. The agency intends to outsource by 2009 as much as 91% of Medicare Part A and B claims processing -- an estimated $250 billion in provider payments. That's well in advance of the October 2011 deadline set by the Medicare Modernization Act. The schedule "leaves little time for the CMS to adjust for any problems," the GAO warned in its report. "If those transitions go awry, physicians and other providers could experience delays and errors." The GAO criticized the CMS' estimates for costs and savings as "too uncertain" and said the agency's outsourcing plan doesn't provide "detailed information on the risks of contracting reform and the steps to mitigate them." The CMS argued that accelerating the outsourcing will mean a quicker return "both in terms of Trust Fund savings and operational efficiencies." The agency acknowledged some of the GAO's points but disagreed with the recommendations. -- by Mark Taylor
CMS urged to slow down outsourcing of Medicare claims
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