(a) Notice of intention to suspend -
(1) General rule. Except as provided in paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(4) of this section, if the Medicare contractor, or CMS has determined that a suspension of payments under § 405.371(a)(1) should be put into effect, the Medicare contractor must notify the provider or supplier of the intention to suspend payments, in whole or in part, and the reasons for making the suspension.
(2) Failure to furnish information. The notice requirement of paragraph (a)(1) of this section does not apply if the Medicare contractor suspends payments to a provider or supplier in accordance with section 1815(a) or section 1833(e) of the Act, respectively, because the provider or supplier has failed to submit information requested by the Medicare contractor that is needed to determine the amounts due the provider or supplier. (See § 405.371(c) concerning failure to file timely acceptable cost reports.)
(3) Harm to trust funds. A suspension of payment may be imposed without prior notice if CMS, the intermediary, or carrier determines that the Medicare Trust Funds would be harmed by giving prior notice. CMS may base its determination on an intermediary's or carrier's belief that giving prior notice would hinder the possibility of recovering the money.
(4) Fraud. If the intended suspension of payment involves credible allegations of fraud under § 405.371(a)(2), CMS -
(i) In consultation with OIG and, as appropriate, the Department of Justice, determines whether to impose the suspension and if prior notice is appropriate;
(ii) Directs the Medicare contractor as to the timing and content of the notification to the provider or supplier; and
(iii) Is the real party in interest and is responsible for the decision.
(b) Rebuttal -
(1) If prior notice is required. If prior notice is required under paragraph (a) of this section, the Medicare contractor must give the provider or supplier an opportunity for rebuttal in accordance with § 405.374. If a rebuttal statement is received within the specified time period, the suspension of payment goes into effect on the date stated in the notice, and the procedures and provisions set forth in § 405.375 apply. If by the end of the period specified in the notice no statement has been received, the suspension goes into effect automatically, and the procedures set forth in paragraph (c) of this section are followed.
(2) If prior notice is not required. If, under the provisions of paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(4) of this section, a suspension of payment is put into effect without prior notice to the provider or supplier, the Medicare contractor must, once the suspension is in effect, give the provider or supplier an opportunity to submit a rebuttal statement as to why the suspension should be removed.
(c) Subsequent action.
(1) If a suspension of payment is put into effect under § 405.371(a)(1), CMS or the Medicare contractor takes timely action after the suspension to obtain the additional information it may need to make a determination as to whether an overpayment exists or the payments may be made.
(i) CMS or the Medicare contractor makes all reasonable efforts to expedite the determination.
(ii) As soon as the determination is made, CMS or the Medicare contractor informs the provider or supplier and, if appropriate, the suspension is rescinded or any existing recoupment or offset is adjusted to take into account the determination.
(i) If a suspension of payment is based upon credible allegations of fraud in accordance with § 405.371(a)(2), subsequent action must be taken by CMS or the Medicare contractor to make a determination as to whether an overpayment exists.
(ii) The rescission of the suspension and the issuance of a final overpayment determination to the provider or supplier may be delayed until resolution of the investigation.
(d) Duration of suspension of payment -
(2) 180-day extension.
(i) An intermediary, a carrier, or, in cases of fraud and misrepresentation, OIG or a law enforcement agency, may request a one-time only extension of the suspension period for up to 180 additional days if it is unable to complete its examination of the information or investigation, as appropriate, within the 180-day time limit. The request must be submitted in writing to CMS.
(ii) Upon receipt of a request for an extension, CMS notifies the provider or supplier of the requested extension. CMS then either extends the suspension of payment for up to an additional 180 days or determines that the suspended payments are to be released to the provider or supplier.
(3) Exceptions to the time limits.
(ii) Although the time limits specified in paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2) of this section do not apply to suspensions based on credible allegations of fraud, all suspensions of payment in accordance with § 405.371(a)(2) will be temporary and will not continue after the resolution of an investigation, unless a suspension is warranted because of reliable evidence of an overpayment or that the payments to be made may not be correct, as specified in § 405.371(a)(1).
(e) Disposition of suspended payments. Payments suspended under the authority of § 405.371(a) are first applied to reduce or eliminate any overpayments determined by the Medicare contractor, or CMS, including any interest assessed under the provisions of § 405.378, and then applied to reduce any other obligation to CMS or to HHS. In the absence of a legal requirement that the excess be paid to another entity, the excess is released to the provider or supplier.