The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently said health care plan organizations are not permitted to mandate that medical practices honor credit operations known for tacking on overpriced service charges.
Following the announcement, the American Medical Association (AMA) issed a posting on its website expressing its satisfaction with CMS’s position, having stood up for CMS guidance regarding physicians’ rights in the past – specifically since 2014’s enactment of the Automated Clearing House (ACH) EFT standard.
ACH is a nationwide electronic platform that handles mass numbers of credit and debit transactions in the U.S. widely used by both government and private sector organizations for direct deposit, payroll, vendor compensation, tax transactions and more.
AMA officials indicated in its posting that the group’s “persistence has paid off,” especially regarding clarification of HIPAA laws in relation to electronic fund transfers (EFT).
When some private insurance carriers began the practice of utilizing virtual credit cards (VCCs) with a one-time 16-digit number and piling on extra fees, the AMA said in the posting it communicated its displeasure in a 2014 letter to Health and Human Services officials.
“Providers are unexpectedly losing income through these card fees, which essentially reduce the contracted fee rate that has been negotiated with the health plan for a particular service or services,” the letter said, according to the posting. “Many providers are understandably opposed to incurring these fees.”
CMS said that physicians may not be coerced into accepting VCC payments, saying in part that providers may request EFT methods in lieu of VCCs at any time, the AMA posting said.
“If a provider makes the request, the health plan must comply,” CMS said on its revised document, according to the AMA.