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RDS User Guide

User Roles:






Program Components:

User Management

Annual Plan Application

Retiree Management

Payment Setup

Interim Payment


Introduction and Purpose of the RDS User Guide

The mission of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS') Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) Center is to maximize the participation of Plan Sponsors in the RDS Program. The primary goal is to provide quality outreach and educational materials for current and potential RDS participants and to provide excellent customer service to the community.

The RDS User Guide is a comprehensive reference resource that includes detailed information about participating in the RDS Program.

The purpose of the RDS User Guide is to:

  • Inform potential participants about the RDS Program
  • Educate current participants about RDS Program operations and how to use the RDS Secure Website

The RDS User Guide is designed to be accessible to all users.

Using the RDS User Guide

The RDS User Guide is divided into task areas to help participants find the information they need quickly:

  • Get Started     AM AR AC D V
    This section provides information such as a program overview and how to apply for the program, register as RDS Secure Website User, and manage a Plan Sponsor Account.
  • RDS Program Components: This section provides information to complete tasks in each of the major program areas:
    • User Management User Management     AM AR AC D
      Manage user roles and registered user information throughout the phases of an application.
    • Annual Plan Application Annual Plan Application     AM AR AC D V
      Start and complete an application, make changes to an application after submission, request an Application Deadline Extension, or delete an application.
    • Retiree Management Retiree Management AM AR D V
      Establish and manage Qualifying Covered Retirees throughout the phases of an RDS application.
    • Payment Setup Payment Setup AM AR
      Define who reports cost data for each Benefit Option on an application, how the information is communicated to CMS' RDS Center, and who requests interim payments if the Plan Sponsor selects an Interim Payment Frequency. 
    • Interim Payment Interim Payment AM AR D V
      Submit interim costs and submit an interim payment request if the Plan Sponsor selects an Interim Payment Frequency.
    • Reconciliation Reconciliation AM AR D V
      Within 15 months after the application Plan Year End Date, finalize the Plan Sponsor’s Covered Retiree List and submit all final cost data. If the Plan Sponsor did not select an Interim Payment Frequency, it must use the Reconciliation process to request its annual payment.
      • NOTE: Beginning May 8, 2020, all current and future RDS applications’ Payment Frequency will be set to a maximum frequency of monthly interim payments, consistent with the general payment rules regarding timing set forth in 42 C.F.R. 423.888(b)(1). Although 12 interim payment requests are permitted, a Plan Sponsor may choose to submit fewer than 12 interim payment requests, or forego interim payments and instead choose to submit one final payment request during Reconciliation as described in 42 C.F.R. 423.888(b)(2)(ii). Please refer to Important Enhancement to RDS Payment Frequency for important details.
  • Additional Program Tasks     AM AR D V
    This section provides information on how to prepare cost data, access payment history, appeal an initial determination, and satisfy an overpayment.
  • Quick Access Reports      AM AR D V
    This section provides information about setting up and using Quick Access Reports (QAR) to assist with cost reporting activities.
  • Supplemental Information     AM AR AC D
    This section provides instructions to access the RDS Secure Website and the Reconciliation Checklist, and also offers reference information such as an Acronym List, Glossary, Login Warning, and Reserved Words List.

Select a link in the left sidebar panel to review information for each section.

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