The latest PEPPER (Program for Evaluating Payment Patterns Electronic Report) reports have been released for SNF, LT, IRF, IPF, CAH and hospice providers. You can access your PEPPER online. Home health providers and partial hospitalization programs can expect their PEPPERs to arrive in July 2018.
This latest PEPPER uses statistics for October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017, and will be available for download for approximately two years.
To download your PEPPER, the Compliance Officer, CEO, President or Administrator needs to:
- Visit the PEPPER Resources Portal
- Enter your information. You will need a Patient Control Number (form locator 03a on the UB04) or a Medical Record Number (form locator 03b) for a claim of a traditional fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare patient/beneficiary who was receiving services at this provider with a “From” or “Through” date between July 1 - 30, 2017).
- Download your PEPPER.
If you need help, review the Secure PEPPER Access Guide.
Why PEPPER matters
Your PEPPER report can help you compare your organization to other providers, and determine whether you have been identified as an outlier at risk for improper payments. PEPPER considers a provider to be an outlier if its Target Areas are at or above the 80th percentile, or at or below the 20th percentile, depending on the area. If your PEPPER shows you are an outlier, an internal audit should be conducted to identify any improper payments or non-compliant practices. CMS is quick to point out that variances from the national data do not necessarily mean billing irregularities have occurred. However, it would be wise to determine why the government has identified you as an outlier.
In other words, the government is mining your data and evaluating your claims—and so should you. By incorporating PEPPER data into your compliance auditing strategy, you can identify potential areas of non-compliance that could make you a government target. And of course, a "good" PEPPER should not give you false confidence about your claims – MPA recommends conducting documentation reviews to ensure claims are appropriate, even if you aren't an outlier.
PEPPER comes once a year, but our attention to it should be ongoing. Don't wait for the report to be released in April. Work with your billing department to see what reports you can run internally to track the Target Areas as part of your compliance efforts. This way, there will be no surprises in April 2019.