Revenue cycle challenges “seem to have intensified over the past year,” according to Kaufman Hall’s “2022 State of Healthcare Performance Improvement” report, released Oct. 18.
The consulting firm said that in 2021, 25 percent of survey respondents said they had not seen any pandemic-related effects on their respective revenue cycles. This year, only 7 percent said they saw no effects.
The findings in Kaufman Hall’s report are based on survey responses from 86 hospital and health system leaders across the U.S.
Here are the top five ways leaders said the pandemic affected the revenue cycle in 2022:
1. Increased rate claim denials — 67 percent
2. Change in payer mix: Lower percentage of commercially insured patients — 51 percent
3. Increase in bad debt/uncompensated care — 41 percent
4. Change in payer mix: Higher percentage of Medicaid patients — 35 percent
5. Change in payer mix: Higher percentage of self-pay or uninsured patients — 31 percent
Stillwater Medical Center in Oklahoma has ended all in-network contracts with Medicare Advantage plans amid financial challenges at the 117-bed hospital, the Stillwater News Press reported Oct. 14.
Humana and BCBS of Oklahoma were notified that their members will no longer receive in-network coverage after Jan. 1, 2023.
“BCBSOK is willing to work with Stillwater Medical Center in finding solutions that will allow Payne County residents continued local access to Medicare Advantage providers,” a BCBS spokesperson told the newspaper.
The hospital said it made the decision after facing rising operating costs and a high prior authorization burden for the MA plans.
“This was a very tough financial decision for the Stillwater Medical leadership team. Our cost to operate has increased 26 percent over the past 2 years,” Tamie Young, vice president of revenue cycle at SMC, told the News Press. “Financial challenges are increased by a 22 percent denial of service rate from Medicare Advantage plans. This is in comparison to a less than 1 percent denial rate from traditional Medicare.”
The American Hospital Association, on behalf of its nearly 5,000 healthcare organizations, is urging the Justice Department to probe routine denials from commercial health insurance companies.
Specifically, the AHA is asking the Justice Department to establish a task force to conduct False Claims Act investigations into the insurers that routinely deny payments to providers, according to a May 19 letter to the department.
The request from the AHA comes after HHS’ Office of Inspector General released a report April 27 that found Medicare Advantage Organizations sometimes delayed or denied enrollees’ access to services although the provider’s prior authorization request met Medicare coverage rules.
“It is time for the Department of Justice to exercise its False Claims Act authority to both punish those MAOs that have denied Medicare beneficiaries and their providers their rightful coverage and to deter future misdeeds,” the AHA said in a letter to the Justice Department. “This problem has grown so large — and has lasted for so long — that only the prospect of civil and criminal penalties can adequately prevent the widespread fraud certain MAOs are perpetrating against sick and elderly patients across the country.”