I had one crowning achievement during my college career. Freshman year, I took the most challenging course the university had to offer. I still wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with differential equations flying through my brain. Advanced calculus not only had a difficult subject matter, it also had a professor known for challenging even his most avid students.
I remember tackling the material with a voracity that I had never displayed in my course work before. I ate, slept, and inhaled the complex mathematical formulas. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got the final grade back.
Over the years, I have used the same skills gleaned from this class to build a successful career: hard work, methodical attention to detail, and a fastidious sense of organization. For the most part, I have been able to thrive in most settings. There have been few hurdles that I have not been able to eventually leap over.
Little did I know, however, that I would face my greatest challenge this year as I formed my own medical practice. For the first time, I was solely responsible for all the administrative work and credentialing with Medicare.
And it’s been a comedy of errors.
My original credentialing packet was sent in too early, and the Medicare contractor refused to accept it. When they finally did, they lost an important form, and the whole packet had to be resent.
I applied for and successfully attested to meaningful use. My relief was short lived though as Medicare sent my bonus check to the wrong practice. Eight months later, I am still waiting for the situation to be rectified.
To my great surprise, I recently found that as of January 1 of this year, I have been dropped from Medicare. In a process called revalidation, created by the Affordable Care Act, Medicare requires providers to revalidate their enrollment information at various intervals. Supposedly, a letter was sent to me in September asking to update my information. Although I never received the letter, I was dis-enrolled after 60 days without further notice. This was quite a shock given I had just re-credentialed with Medicare a short 9 months ago. It will be another few months before this error can be corrected, and I can participate again.
Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the runaround I have gotten from Medicare this year. The sheer number of passwords, portals, attestations, and forms is dizzying.
I am smart. I am motivated. And I am extremely organized.
And I am failing miserably at jumping through Medicare’s hoops.