CMS Medicare ID cards hit another potential snag

The CMS has signed an emergency contract agreement with West Publishing Corp., a Thomson Reuters subsidiary, to make sure that its new Medicare ID cards are going to the right beneficiaries.

The agency is mailing the new Medicare identification cards with randomly generated beneficiary identifiers in place of Social Security numbers. Approximately 60 million beneficiaries will receive the new cards by April 2019.

However, the CMS discovered in a simulation that a data vulnerability could lead to the wrong people receiving some of the ID cards, as some of the beneficiary address information the agency has may not be accurate.

"To mitigate this risk, CMS requires a contractor to perform a validation of Medicare beneficiary address information in advance of the Medicare Card mailing project," the agency said in notice posted Friday.

West Publishing will receive $5.5 million to make sure the cards went to the correct enrollees. The CMS did not undergo a full bidding process, citing the urgent nature of the issue.

"The agency's need to have a contractor perform the beneficiary address validation services is of such an unusual and compelling urgency that the government would be subject to serious financial injury if this contract was delayed and Medicare cards were mailed prior to the addresses being validated," the agency said.

West Publishing competed against two unnamed companies and the agency determined it had the best private-sector database to track down beneficiaries, according to the CMS.


Virgil Dickson

Virgil Dickson was reporting from Washington on the federal regulatory agencies. His experience before joining Modern Healthcare in 2013 includes serving as the Washington-based correspondent for PRWeek and as an editor/reporter for FDA News. Dickson earned a bachelor's degree from DePaul University in 2007.

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