AMA meeting: PECOS problems must be addressed
■ One resolution adopted by the House of Delegates calls the Medicare enrollment system a "looming disaster for patients and physicians."
By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted Nov. 22, 2010
San Diego -- The process for physicians to register with Medicare -- the Provider, Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System, or PECOS -- needs to be improved, according to policy adopted at the AMA Interim Meeting.
The AMA House of Delegates adopted policy on this issue because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services system is a "looming disaster for patients and physicians," according to one resolution.
The registration deadline was July 6, although this has changed several times. Claims are not being denied while CMS reviews the program.
"It really needs to be fixed," said Theodore Zanker, MD, a New Haven, Conn., psychiatrist. The Connecticut State Medical Society delegate said he spent six months trying to register for PECOS.
Awareness of the need to enroll in PECOS is low, delegates said. Claims are being honored if a physician is not registered, but CMS has not announced when that will change.
"There is general lack of knowledge about this," said Michael Lew, MD, an alternate delegate from the Massachusetts Medical Society and an infectious disease specialist in Newton.
The system has long come under fire from the AMA and other medical societies. It was launched in November 2003 to better centralize the enrollment process. Before this time, each contractor had its own system.
After complaints from the AMA and others, CMS said June 30 that it would launch a review of PECOS, and that contractors would not start automatically rejecting claims involving physicians not properly enrolled as of a July 6 deadline. The AMA has advocated that CMS not reject any claims before Jan. 3, 2011.