CMS Finishes New Medicare Card Distribution Initiative

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently published a press release stating that it has completed its initiative of issuing new Medicare cards to all beneficiaries with new Medicare identification numbers as of January 16, 2019. The purpose of this initiative was to replace all Social Security number based HICNs with the new Medicare ID number, the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) which is a randomly generated series of letters and numbers, as opposed to being based on an individual’s Social Security number, in turn adding a layer of security against identity theft and fraud and abuse. Specifically, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 requires CMS to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards and to reissue new non-Social Security number based Medicare identification numbers by April 2019. The issuing of this bulletin indicates that CMS has completed this project of replacing all existing Medicare cards three months ahead of schedule. The full press release can be found here.

CMS states that the current administration is “committed to modernizing Medicare and has expedited this process to ensure the protection of Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayer dollars from the potential for fraud and abuse due to personal information that existed on the old cards.” CMS further asserts that more than half of the healthcare claims that it is now processing now contain an MBI.

CMS has previously outlined that it has exempted all Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) Processes from exclusive use of MBI for the time being. That is, for Section 111 reporting Responsible Reporting Entities (RREs) may continue to perform Section 111 reporting processes using an individual’s full SSN, HICN, or MBI. The Section 111 User Guide states that if a HICN is reported, and the individual has been assigned an MBI, the MBI will be returned on the response file. Further, CMS has also previously stated that all Benefits Coordination and Recovery Center (BCRC) and Commercial Repayment Center (CRC) issued correspondence will use the most recent Medicare identifier that the RRE has provided when creating or updating a Medicare Secondary Payer record. In short, while the use of the HICN will continue to decrease until only the MBI is in use, CMS will not yet have any issue processing claims using an individual’s HICN (if one was previously issued to the individual).

As increasing personal security was the purpose of replacing the previous Medicare cards, CMS recommends that all beneficiaries destroy their old Medicare cards, begin using the new Medicare card immediately, and to protect your Medicare card just like a credit card. Further, in the event that a Medicare beneficiary has not received his or her new Medicare card, CMS recommends contacting 1-800-Medicare or logging in to the beneficiary’s mymedicare.gov account to ensure that their contact and mailing information is accurate.

Gordon & Rees remains committed to bringing you the most up to date information regarding all things Medicare Secondary Payer. Accordingly, we will continue to provide any updates regarding the use of MBIs as they are released. Should you have any questions regarding the above or need any Medicare compliance assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Gordon & Rees Medicare Compliance Group at mstockdale@grsm.com or 412-588-2277

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