Agencies Encouraged to Access the HHA PEPPER

September 22, 2015 02:33 PM

PEPPER, which is sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is a provider-specific Medicare data report that summarizes a provider’s Medicare claims data for services identified as vulnerable to improper payments. The new PEPPER for HHAs released in July summarizes statistics for these six target areas:

  • Average case mix
  • Average number of episodes
  • Episodes with five or six visits
  • Non-LUPA payments
  • High therapy utilization episodes
  • Outlier payments

PEPPER can support an agency’s compliance efforts by identifying where it is an outlier for these target areas. It is an opportunity for all HHAs to self-monitor their billing practices, compare their activities with other HHAs across the nation and determine whether they are an outlier in their practices and possible subjects of special review by the OIG.

How Can I Obtain My PEPPER?

The Chief Executive Officer, President, Administrator or Compliance Officer of the agency should:

  • Review the Secure PEPPER Access Guide
  • Review the instructions and obtain the information required to authenticate access. A medical record number or patient control number from a claim for services with a “from” or “through” date between December 1 – 31, 2014 will be required for access.
  • Visit the PEPPER Resources Portal
  • Complete all the fields
  • Download your PEPPER

Note: Some  HHAs have stated that the patient control number (PCN) that they obtained from the UB04 claim form for a traditional, Medicare fee-for-service beneficiary with a “from” or “through” date between December 1-31, 2014 was very different from the claim number TMF obtained from the paid claims database. TMF has researched this issue in coordination with CMS and Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) staff and has reached out to HHAs that did not have trouble accessing their PEPPER. TMF learned that:

  • The MAC does not change the PCN; they process the claim as it was received from the HHA or from the vendor authorized to transmit claims on behalf of the provider.
  • Some billing software/vendors use the beneficiary health insurance claim number (HICN or Medicare number) as the patient control number. TMF has determined that only 0.25% of the patient control numbers TMF obtained from the paid claims database are formatted as an HICN.

Therefore, TMF suggests that HHAs *not* use a PCN that is the same as the beneficiary HICN to access their PEPPER. Instead, we recommend using the remittance advice received from the MAC to obtain a patient control number; select a PCN for a claim with a “from” or “through” date between December 1 – 31, 2014. This *may* be a nine-digit number that starts with 16, 17, 18 or 19.

If you still have difficulty, please contact us via the Help Desk for assistance.

How can I learn more?

Recorded PEPPER training sessions are available on the Home Health Agency Training and Resources Page at, along with the HHA PEPPER User’s Guide. Join the email list at to receive notifications of upcoming training opportunities and report distribution.

PEPPER is distributed by TMF® Health Quality Institute under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Visit to access more information on PEPPER. If you have questions or comments about PEPPER or need help obtaining your report, visit our Help Desk to request assistance.