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Providers receive misinformation from Medicare call centers.

Long-term care providers who seek advice from call centers operated by government-contracted Medicare carriers might want to turn elsewhere until the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) can better ensure the accuracy of the information being disseminated. That's because the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that only a paltry 4% of the responses it received in 300 test calls to 34 call centers were correct and complete. The GAO attributes the errors to fragmented sources of information, confusing policy information, and difficulties in retaining customer service representatives. The GAO also says CMS's oversight of carriers' call centers is inadequate, noting that CMS performed only one contractor performance evaluation related to carrier telephone services in FY 2002 and none in FY 2003.

The GAO recommended that CMS develop a process to route questions to staff with the relevant expertise, create clear and easily accessible policy-oriented materials for customer service representatives, and establish an effective monitoring program for call centers. CMS generally agreed with the GAO's recommendations.

To read the report, visit www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-669.

BY DOUGLAS J. EDWARDS, ASSISTANT EDITOR
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Title Annotation:NEWS notes
Author:Edwards, Douglas J.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:183
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