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New Medicare ABN to be required Jan. 1

November 30, 2011

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is reminding health care practitioners that they will be required to use an updated version of the Medicare Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage (ABN) form (CMS-R-131) beginning Jan. 1, 2012. Health care practitioners can continue to use older versions of the ABN form – the ABN-G (Form CMS-R-131G), ABN-L (Form CMS-R-131L), and NEMB (Form CMS-20007) – until that time.

The new version of the form contains no substantive changes from the previous version, released in 2008, except for a release date of “3/11” that is printed in the lower left hand corner of the new version. However, use of the new form will be important, the CMS emphasizes.

“ABNs that are issued after Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, and are prepared using the 2008 version of the notice will be considered invalid by Medicare contractors,” the CMS warned in an e-mail message to health care practitioners last month. The CMS released the new version of the form in May of this year and had previously announced it would require practitioners to begin using the updated form on Sept. 1. However, the agency last month postponed the deadline to New Year’s Day in order to give providers more time to exhaust inventories of older versions of the form. Practitioners can begin using the new version of the form as soon as they run out of older forms, the CMS said.

The ABN is used to inform patients may not cover all or part of a health care product or service. Old 2008 versions of the ABN that are issued prior to Jan. 1 as long-term notification for repetitive services (delivered for up to one year) will remain effective for the length of time specified on the notice. Information and a copy of the 2011 version of the ABN (form CMS-R-131) can be found online at www.CMS.gov/BNI, under the “FFS Revised ABN” link.

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