Sen. Casey: UnitedHealth has reprocessed more than 1.6M claims for COVID-19 vaccines

Source: Bloomberg News

UnitedHealthcare has reprocessed more than 1.6 million claims for COVID-19 vaccines, reimbursing providers for underpayments that stirred controversy late last year.

February 1, 2022 – In a statement to Congress, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., said that 99.8% of the claims were processed by Jan. 14, with the remaining 2,900 claims expected to be finalized by Feb. 1. The average adjustment per claim was $14.55 for a total of $23.9 million, according to the statement (PDF).

“I remain committed to removing future roadblocks that may emerge to widespread vaccination against COVID-19,” Casey, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said. “This body should do the same.”

UnitedHealth came under fire last fall for its reimbursement rates for vaccinations, which providers decried as too low as it was significantly expensive for them to set up vaccine programs. In October, Casey sent a letter to UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty, urging the insurer to address the problem.

In a Nov. 5 letter to Casey’s office, UnitedHealthcare CEO Brian Thompson said the insurer will update its processes to ensure it adjusts reimbursement codes and rates more quickly. UnitedHealth was reimbursing providers at the $40 Medicare rate for vaccines as of July 1 and went back to adjust claims from March 15 to June 30 at the same rate.

“With regard to new rates for COVID-19 vaccinations or other emergent therapeutics for COVID-19, we will be accelerating our process for updating our reimbursement to support the COVID-19 vaccine codes and rates implemented by CMS as they become available,” Thompson wrote.

“Specifically, UHC will implement new COVID-19 codes and rates upon the publication of this information by CMS rather than including these changes in our scheduled quarterly reimbursement update processes,” he added.

Leaders and staff at UnitedHealth cited several factors that led to the slow update, such as contract language.

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