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CMS' RDS Center will be performing system maintenance on the RDS Secure Website on Friday, April 19, 2024 beginning at 9:00PM ET and concluding Saturday, April 20, 2024 at 10:00AM ET. The Secure Website will be available, but file processing will be impacted. Refer to this Announcement for details.

October 24, 2017 Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) Webinar: New Medicare Card Project Highlights

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS') Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) Center hosted a webinar about the upcoming New Medicare Card Project and how this project will impact the RDS Program. This project was previously known as the Social Security Removal Initiative (SSNRI). Both Plan Sponsors and Vendors were in attendance.

A copy of the slide deck has been published for your reference: RDS New Medicare Card Project Webinar Slide Deck (pdf, 835KB).

CMS' RDS Center discussed the following topics:

New Medicare Card Project Overview

During this portion of the presentation, CMS discussed the New Medicare Card Project as it applies to all Medicare stakeholders, including beneficiaries, providers, government agencies, health plans, business partners, and advocacy groups. Please reference slides 5 – 31 in the RDS New Medicare Card Project Webinar Slide Deck for the complete overview that was presented.

Also included in the overview was the transition timeframe for the project as it applies to all Medicare stakeholders. The MBI Generation and Transition Period was discussed beginning on slide 12. Also discussed was how to use MBI during the transition period.

CMS ended the overview portion of the presentation with information about preparing for the MBI and Medicare Card changes, as well as Outreach that will be performed. This information can be found on slides 20-31.

Impact to the RDS Program

Following the New Medicare Card Project Overview, CMS’ RDS Center reviewed the impact of the New Medicare Card Project on the RDS Program. This information can be found on slides 32-39.

  • Program Website Updates
  • Retiree File Impacts:
    • Secure Website and Connect:Direct Submitters:
      • The field for Medicare Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) will be renamed to “Medicare beneficiary identifier” and may contain MBI, HICN, or RRB indefinitely.
      • This change affects Retiree Files, Response Files, Notification Files, and Covered Retiree Lists sent by CMS’ RDS Center and will also be updated.
      • Reason Code 13 will be modified to reflect invalid format for the Medicare beneficiary identifier (MBI, HICN, RRB) or SSN.
    • MIR/VDSA Submitters:
      • The field for Medicare Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) will be renamed to “Medicare ID” and may contain MBI, HICN, or RRB indefinitely.
      • This change affects Retiree Files, Response Files, and Notification Files.
      • Responses will return the most current identifier which could be MBI on/after April 2018.
      • Reason Code SP12 and disposition code of 06 will indicate the Medicare ID (MBI, HICN, RRB) or SSN is invalid.
    • All Submitters:
      • All RDS retiree file formats will be updated in November, 2017, however MBI will not be accepted by the RDS Center until April, 2018. Formal announcement will be made via RDS Program Website and email communication.
      • Submitting MBI prior to April 2018 will result in Reason Code 13 for SWS/C:D or Reason Code SP12 for MIR/VDSA
      • RDS will return whichever identifier is provided in the Retiree List; the MBI will not be returned/provided to submitters that use another identifier in “Medicare beneficiary identifier” field.
      • MBI crosswalk for retirees will not be provided.
  • No Change to SSN Field: The RDS Center will continue to accept the Social Security Number (SSN) in the same field on the file layout as it is today.
  • RDS Program Impacts: Plan Sponsors and their vendors should submit the MBI on records when it is available. CMS will monitor the progress of RDS Plan Sponsors and their vendors in making the transition to submitting MBIs.
  • Future Program Website Updates: The file layouts and RDS Reason Codes within the Retiree Processing Resources section of the RDS User Guide will be updated, as will the Sample Retiree File Spreadsheet located within the Resource Library. An announcement will be posted on the RDS Program Website when these updated materials are available. Plan Sponsors and Vendors will also receive an email communication.
  • Timeline of RDS Events:
    • April 2017: RDS Center announces upcoming New Medicare Card Project
    • September 2017: Webinar Announcement posted and Registration Emails sent
    • October 2017: RDS Center hosts New Medicare Card Project Webinar
    • November 2017: RDS Center updates file layouts and posts changes to Program Website; Plan Sponsors and Vendors shall await direction before sending MBI
    • April 2018: Begin using MBI

RDS Center Reminders

Next, on slide 40, CMS’ RDS Center provided the following reminders to the Plan Sponsor and Vendor community:

  • Protect Your Secure Website Account
    • It is a violation of Federal law to share or transfer user accounts or login and password information.
    • Plan Sponsors are encouraged to protect account information and manage users responsibly.
  • Plan Ahead For Reconciliation
    • Within 15 months after the application Plan Year End Date, Plan Sponsors complete Reconciliation, which can typically average 90 days to complete all 12 process steps.
    • Plan Sponsors that fail to meet the Reconciliation Deadline will not be granted any additional time to complete Reconciliation (CMS will not provide a longer time limit and no Plan Sponsor requests for Reconciliation Deadline Extensions will be considered).
    • Carefully consider the timing risk associated with resetting an application back to Step 3 too close to the Reconciliation Deadline.
  • Keep Retiree Information Up-To-Date

Questions & Answers

Finally, CMS’ RDS Center answered questions that had been submitted:

Question: Will the slide deck from the presentation be published?
Answer: Yes, it can be found here: RDS New Medicare Card Project Webinar Slide Deck (pdf, 835KB).

Question: Will RDS continue to accept SSN?
Answer: Yes, RDS will accept SSN and HICN indefinitely

Question: How will Plan Sponsors be notified of the changes that RDS is implementing?
Answer: Plan Sponsors and Vendors will be notified via email and announcement on the RDS Program Website.

Question: Will RDS provide a mechanism for Plan Sponsors to obtain their retiree’s MBI?
Answer: Since RDS will accept SSN and HICN indefinitely, RDS will not be providing an MBI crosswalk or tool for Plan Sponsors to use for obtaining MBI for their retirees.

Question: Since gender will be removed from the new Medicare Cards, will gender be removed from the retiree files?
Answer: No, gender will remain on RDS Retiree files. The only change to retiree files will be renaming the HICN field to Medicare beneficiary identifier (for SWS and C:D submitters) or Medicare ID (for MIR/VDSA submitters).

Question: Can a retiree file include a combination of identifiers (MBI, HICN, SSN)?
Answer: Yes, Plan Sponsors are able to submit different identifiers for different retirees depending on the information they have available.

Please submit any additional RDS comments or questions by opening a RDS Secure Website Support Request or submitting an email to CMS’ RDS Center:

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