Is Your Practice Ready for the 60-Day PECOS Countdown?


NOTE: The date has been changed to July 5, 2011. delayed indefinitely.


As of April 5, 2010 As of January 3, 2011, As of July 6, 2010, if the ordering/referring provider of goods and services on the CMS-1500 claim is not listed in PECOS and eligible to order/refer, the claim will not be paid.  Your patients may not be able to get the items they need, they may have problems with rented items (going three years back) and hospital discharges may be delayed.  Even if your practice doesn’t fall into any of these categories, you will fall into some Medicare category sooner or later, particularly if you need to inform CMS of any practice changes.

If your providers aren’t in the PECOS database, you should bite the bullet and GET STARTED TODAY!

Some terminology I use in this article:

AO = Authorized Official

CMS = Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

EUS – External User Services (for CMS PECOS) Help Desk

MAC = Medicare Administrative Contractor

NPPES = National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (the system that assigns the National Provider Identifier (NPI)

Providers = physicians and non-physician practitioners (I know physicians hate being called “providers”, but there it is.)

Type I NPI = National Provider Identifier for a physician or non-physician practitioner

Type II NPI = National Provider Identifier for a practice or organization


PECOS stands for the Provider Enrollment and Chain/Ownership System. It was created by CMS as an electronic portal for Medicare enrollment of physicians, non-physician practitioners, and provider and supplier organizations.

Even though some providers are enrolled in Medicare, their enrollment records might not be in PECOS. If they have not sent in a Medicare application to report any changes to their Medicare enrollment information within the past 5 years, they probably do not have an enrollment record in PECOS. These individuals will need to submit a  Medicare enrollment application. To see if a provider is enrolled in PECOS, check here. If the name is not there, the PECOS enrollment is incomplete or missing.

PECOS is designed to electronically:

  • Enroll in the Medicare program
  • Make changes to Medicare enrollment information
  • View existing Medicare enrollment information
  • Withdraw from the Medicare program
  • Check the status of an Internet-submitted Medicare enrollment application

While PECOS supports most enrollment application actions, there are some limitations. Providers cannot use PECOS to:

  • Change his/her name or Social Security Number, or changes in Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). These must be done using the paper enrollment application (CMS-855)
  • Change an existing business structure or changes in Legal Business Name (LBN). These must be done using the paper enrollment application (CMS-855). An example of a change to a business structure is:
    • A sole owner of an enrolled Professional Association, Professional Corporation, or Limited Liability Company cannot change the business structure to a sole proprietorship; or
    • An enrolled sole proprietorship cannot be changed to a solely-owned Professional Association, Professional Corporation, or Limited Liability Company.
  • Reassign benefits to another supplier if that supplier does not have a current Medicare enrollment record in PECOS.
  • An enrolled Medicare Part A provider or supplier organization wants to enroll with a Medicare carrier or A/B Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) to bill for Part B services. This must be done using the paper enrollment application (CMS-855).

WHY should I use PECOS?

Described as being 50% faster than paper, PECOS will alert the applicant when a response is inadequate or unacceptable, thereby decreasing the possibility of a rejected application.

Going forward, Medicare providers are required to notify Medicare of reportable events within a specific timeframe or risk losing their ability to bill for services provided to Medicare patients. A reportable event is any change that affects information in a Medicare enrollment record. A reportable event may affect claims processing, claims payment, or a provider’s eligibility to participate in the Medicare program.

Effective April 4, 2010, providers are required to report the following changes within 30 days of the following reportable events:

  • Change in ownership
  • Change in practice location, and
  • Final adverse action.

A final adverse action includes: (1) a Medicare imposed revocation of any Medicare billing privileges; (2) suspension or revocation of a license to provide health care by any State licensing authority; (3) revocation or suspension by an accreditation organization; (4) a conviction of a Federal or State felony offense (as defined in 42 CFR 424.535(a)(3)(i)) within the last ten years preceding enrollment, revalidation, or re-enrollment; or (5) an exclusion or debarment from participation in a Federal or State health care program.

Providers are required to report the following changes immediately, but not later than 90 days, after the reportable event:

  • Change in practice status (e.g., retirement, voluntary surrender of medical license or voluntary withdrawal from the Medicare program)
  • Change of business structure, Legal Business Name or Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Banking arrangements or payment information
  • A change in the correspondence or special payments address

Hopefully, PECOS should make this reporting easier by:

  • Reducing the time necessary for provider and supplier organizations to enroll or make a change in their Medicare enrollment information;
  • Streamlining the Medicare enrollment process for provider and supplier organizations;
  • Allowing provider and supplier organizations to view their Medicare enrollment information to ensure that it is accurate; and
  • Reducing the administrative burden associated with completing and submitting enrollment information to Medicare.

So far the above has not been the case, but let’s move on.

WHO needs to enroll in PECOS?

  • If you are not enrolled in the Medicare program and want to become enrolled,  you do.
  • If you enrolled more than 6 years ago and have not submitted any updates or changes to your enrollment information in more than 6 years, you do. If a provider who is currently enrolled in the Medicare program has not submitted a complete Medicare enrollment application (CMS-855) since November 2003, the Medicare contractor will require the individual or organization to submit a complete CMS-855 in order to update or make a change in their enrollment information.

In order to continue to order or refer items or services for Medicare beneficiaries, you will have to submit an initial enrollment application, which you may do in one of two ways:

  1. Using Internet-based PECOS (which transmits your enrollment application to the MAC) AND BE SURE to mail the signed and dated Certification Statement to the carrier or A/B MAC immediately after submitting the application.
  2. Filling out the appropriate paper Medicare provider enrollment application(s) (CMS-855I and CMS-855R , if appropriate) and mailing the application, along with any required additional supplemental documentation, to the local Medicare carrier or A/B MAC, who will enter your information into PECOS and process your enrollment application. Information on how to enroll in Medicare is found on the Medicare provider/supplier enrollment web site.

If you are already enrolled in Medicare, make sure you have a current enrollment record in PECOS.  You can find out by:

  • Calling your designated carrier or A/B MAC (recommended). Find out who your A/B MAC is here.
  • Using PECOS to view your enrollment record.
  • Going to and searching for the provider

If you are a dentist or a physician with a specialty such as a pediatricians who is eligible to order or refer items or services for Medicare beneficiaries but have not enrolled in Medicare because the services you provide are not covered by Medicare or you treat few Medicare beneficiaries, you need to enroll in Medicare in order to continue to order or refer items or services for Medicare beneficiaries.

WHICH paper enrollment form should be used?

CMS uses five different provider and supplier enrollment applications:

  • Part A providers are required to use the CMS-855A to enroll or update their enrollment information;
  • Part B suppliers (except suppliers of Durable Medical Equipment, and Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS)) are required to use the CMS-855B to enroll or update their enrollment information;
  • Physicians and non-physician practitioners are required to use the CMS-855I to enroll or change their enrollment information;
  • DMEPOS suppliers are required to use the CMS-855S to enroll or update their enrollment information.
  • Individual practitioners who would like to reassign their benefits to an eligible provider or supplier or terminate an existing reassignment agreement would use the CMS-855R.

You should file a CMS-855A (pdf) with the designated MAC if you would like to enroll your organization in the Medicare program as one of the following types of providers.

  • Community Mental Health Center
  • Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility
  • End-Stage Renal Disease Facility
  • Federally Qualified Health Center
  • Histocompatibility Laboratory
  • Home Health Agency
  • Hospital
  • Hospice
  • Indian Health Services Facility
  • Organ Procurement Organization
  • Outpatient Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy/Speech Pathology Services
  • Religious Non-Medical Health Care Institution
  • Rural Health Clinic
  • Skilled Nursing Facility

You should file a CMS-855B (pdf) with the designated MAC if you would like to enroll in the Medicare program as one of the following types of suppliers:

  • Ambulance Service Supplier
  • Ambulatory Surgical Center (site visit or state survey typically required)
  • Clinic and Group Practices
  • Hospital Departments
  • Multi-Specialty Clinic
  • Public Health/Welfare Agency
  • Physical/Occupational Therapy Group in Private Practice
  • Single Specialty
  • Independent Clinical Laboratory
  • Independent Diagnostic Testing Facility (site visit or state survey typically required)
  • Mammography Center
  • Mass Immunization – roster biller only
  • Portable X-ray Facility (site visit or state survey typically required)
  • Radiation Therapy Center
  • Slide Preparation Facility
  • Voluntary Healthy/Charitable Agency

You should file a CMS-855I (pdf) with the designated MAC  if you would like to enroll in the Medicare program as one of the following types of providers.

  • Physicians (all specialties)
  • Non-Physicians
    • Anesthesiology Assistant
    • Audiologist
    • Certified Nurse Midwife
    • Certified Nurse Specialist
    • Certified Register Nurse Anesthetist
    • Clinical Social Worker
    • Mass immunization, roster biller (individual only)
    • Nurse Practitioner
    • Occupational Therapist in private practice
    • Physical Therapist in private practice
    • Physician Assistant
    • Psychologist, Clinical
    • Psychologist, billing independently
    • Registered Dietitian or Nutrition Professional

NOTE!! If you are enrolled in Medicare and your NPPES record is correct, you are not re-enrolling, you are revalidating, an important distinction in terminology. The word on the street is that it seems to be easier to revalidate via paper by completing the CMS-855 and writing “REVALIDATION” in the upper margin of the first page.

WHAT information is needed for a PECOS enrollment?

Below is a list of the types of information needed to complete an initial enrollment action using PECOS. This information is similar to the information needed to complete a paper Medicare enrollment application. You may find it useful to print and review the CMS-855 paper enrollment application before initiating an Internet-based PECOS enrollment action.

  • An active National Provider Identifier (NPI).
  • The NPI of the Practice (PA, PC, or LLC)
  • National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) User ID and password.
  • Personal identifying information. This includes legal name on file with the Social Security Administration, date of birth, Social Security Number
  • Professional license and certification information. This includes information regarding the physician’s or non-physician practitioner’s professional license, professional school degrees or certificates.
  • Practice location information. This information includes information regarding the practitioner’s medical practice location, the legal business name of a solely-owned Professional Association, Professional Corporation, or Limited Liability Company (LLC) on file with the Internal Revenue Service and appearing on the IRS CP575
  • Any Federal, State, and/or local (city/county) business licenses, certifications and/or registrations specifically required to operate as a health care facility.
  • A photocopy of the CP-575 form;
  • If applicable, information regarding any final adverse actions. A final adverse action includes: (1) a Medicare-imposed revocation of any Medicare billing privileges; (2) suspension or revocation of a license to provide health care by any State licensing authority; (3) revocation or suspension by an accreditation organization; (4) a conviction of a Federal or State felony offense (as defined in 42 CFR 424.535(a)(3)(A)(i)) within the last ten years preceding enrollment, revalidation, or re-enrollment; or (5) an exclusion or debarment from participation in a Federal or State health care program.

The following forms are routinely submitted with an enrollment application:

  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Authorization Agreement (Form CMS 588)
  • Medicare Participating Physician or Supplier Agreement (Form CMS 460)

HOW do you enroll in PECOS?

There are three basic steps to completing an enrollment action using Internet-based PECOS. Providers must:

  1. Have an active National Provider Identifier (NPI) and have a web user account (User ID/Password) established.  For security reasons, providers should change passwords periodically, at least once a year. If you/your provider needs help in changing your password, contact the NPI Enumerator at 1-800-465-3203 or send an email to
  2. Go to Internet-based PECOS by clicking on this link and complete, review, and submit the electronic enrollment application via Internet-based PECOS.
  3. Print, sign and date the 2-page Certification Statement for each enrollment application submitted and mail the Certification Statement and all supporting paper documentation to the Medicare contractor within 7 days of electronic submission. Note: A Medicare contractor will not process an Internet enrollment application without the signed and dated Certification Statement. In addition, the effective date of filing an enrollment application is the date the Medicare contractor receives the signed Certification Statement that is associated with the Internet submission. The Certification Statement must be signed by the provider enrolling or making changes to enrollment information. Signatures must be original and in ink (blue ink recommended). Copied or stamped signatures will not be accepted.  NOTE: CMS encourages providers to print and retain a copy of the enrollment application for their records, however providers should only mail the 2-page Certification Statement and supporting documentation to the designated Medicare contractor.

HOW can managers facilitate the enrollment?

  • Look at your original Medicare application to see who is the “authorized official”. The Authorized Official (AO) may be theprovider, or may be the owner of the practice, or the CFO of the hospital, in the case of a hospital-owned practice.  The AO (in an original application) may be registered through PECOS and an approval email will be issued in 3-4 weeks. Print the screen that provides the tracking ID.  You will need to refer to it in the future.
  • If you do not have a copy of your organization’s original Medicare enrollment information and do not know who has been designated as your organization’s “authorized official”, an owner of your practice must submit a written letter on the organization’s letterhead to your Medicare contractor authorizing the release of that information.  Medicare contractors are not allowed to release such information over the telephone or in an e-mail, and neither are they allowed to release it to practice staff.
  • The organization AO goes into PECOS Identification & Authentication (I & A) and registers. As part of this process, the AO must mail a photocopy of the CP-575 to the CMS EUS Help Desk so that the Help Desk can verify the organization provider/supplier. Print the screen that provides the tracking ID.  You will need to refer to it in the future.
  • The Help Desk verifies both the organization provider/supplier and the AO, and approves the AO’s registration. The AO receives a system-generated e-mail indicating that the registration has been approved.
  • Once the AO receives this notification, the AO can let the end-user know that he/she can register in PECOS.
  • The end-user goes into PECOS I&A and registers. The registration request will be directed to the AO of the provider/supplier organization.
  • The AO must approve or reject the end-user in PECOS I&A.
  • Once the end-user has been approved in PECOS I&A by the AO for access on behalf of the organization provider/supplier, the end-user will receive a system-generated e-mail indicating that he/she has been approved.
  • The end-user then logs into PECOS and downloads the Security Consent Form. He or she fills it out, obtains the signature/date of signature of the AO, and mails the completed Security Consent Form to the CMS EUS Help Desk at P.O. Box 792750, San Antonio, TX 78216.
  • The Help Desk verifies the information on the Security Consent Form and also calls the AO to verify that the AO did, in fact, sign the Security Consent Form.
  • Once the information on the security Consent Form has been confirmed, the Help Desk approves the Security Consent Form in PECOS and an e-mail is sent to the AO notifying the AO that the end user’s organization has been approved to use Internet-based PECOS on behalf of the organization provider/supplier.
  • It is the AO’s responsibility to notify the end-user’s organization that the end-user can now use Internet-based PECOS. An e-mail is sent to the AO (step 9) because the AO is ultimately responsible for the enrollment information and who has access to that enrollment information. It is the AO’s responsibility to inform the end-user that the Security Consent Form has been approved.


  • Providers, if you search for yourself at and cannot find your record, you do not have a PECOS record – it is either missing or incomplete.  Call Provider Enrollment at Medicare or your MAC for help.
  • If you do not have a PECOS record, send in a paper enrollment or complete the online (PECOS) enrollment.
  • The prerequisite for getting a PECOS record is to have a NPPES record.  Make sure you have your NPPES login and password and that your record (Type I NPI) is correct.  Your organization also needs an NPPES record (Type II NPI), and make sure your organization name on the NPPES record matches the name on your IRS letter.


Read about PECOS in downloadable documents section: Downloads for PECOS

The AMA and MGMA have published an absolutely excellent resource:  “The Medicare Provider Enrollment Toolkit” available here for MGMA members. Enter “Medicare Enrollment” in the search box.

The CMS External User Services (EUS) Help Desk contact information for providers and suppliers using PECOS can be found here (pdf) on the CMS website. The Help Desk hours of operation are Monday ”“ Friday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Standard Time. The Help Desk toll-free number is 1-866-484-8049 and their e-mail address is Questions about accessing and using PECOS should be directed to the CMS EUS Help Desk, although I have heard lots of complaints about long wait times and conflicting advice.

Readers: Please share any clarifying information or tips from your enrollment experiences with everyone.  Leave a comment and share the wealth!

Posted in: Headlines, Medicare & Reimbursement, PECOS

Leave a Comment (28) ↓


  1. BJ Guth-Snyder March 16, 2010

    SO…do I need to enroll in PECOS by April or by 2011??

    • Mary Pat Whaley March 17, 2010

      Hi BJ,

      The drop-dead date is now July 6, 2010. Thanks for asking for the clarification – I added a note to the 60-day Countdown post to make sure everyone knows about the change.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  2. hilda hanst June 23, 2010

    I am a medicare certified Home Health agency, I received my certification from ACHC on January 21, 2009. As a home health Medicare provider do I need to register with Pecos?

    • Mary Pat Whaley June 23, 2010

      Hi Hilda,

      Part A providers (hospitals, skilled nursing homes and home health agencies) are being asked to be enrolled in PECOS by July 6, 2010, however since you recently became Medicare certified, you may already have a PECOS enrollment record and not realize it. Here is the link for the file to download (it’s a large file) to look for your name. The good news is that if you are not enrolled, you should be receiving a letter telling you to enroll! So far, it does not seem as if payments will be held if you do not yet have a record, however, it’s unclear when CMS may start instructing intermediaries to withhold payment.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  3. Cindy Shields June 29, 2010

    How do you “view-only” the enrollment record in PECOS? There are no changes to be made. We want to see if the changes submitted via paper application six weeks ago have been made to the enrollment record in PECOS. There does not seem to be a view-only option. Thank you.

    • Mary Pat Whaley June 29, 2010

      Hi Cindy,

      I have been unable to find any instructions in any of the CMS documentation specific to viewing the record, although it is mentioned numerous times in the documentation that you should view your record regularly (annually?) to make sure everything is correct. I will go into one of my provider’s records tomorrow and check it out and post what I find.

      Mary Pat

  4. Cindy Shields July 6, 2010

    Hi Mary Pat,
    Did you ever find out about just viewing records?

    • Mary Pat Whaley July 6, 2010

      Hi Cindy,

      I’ve checked everything and unless someone knows something different, my best answer is that you can see if you’re on the big list (have a valid enrolled record), but cannot see the record itself. If anyone else knows anything different, please share!

      Best wishes,
      Mary Pat

  5. Kate July 16, 2010

    As we had not had to update in the past six years we have been requested to enroll for PECOS. I have submitted the online enrollment CMS-855I through PECOS it seems successfully and submitted the requested documents by certified mail. We will have a physicians assistant coming to work in our Professional Association in the fall. She is enrolled in Medicare. Are we required as a PA to submit CMS 855B and CMS 855R in order to have here working from our professional association? Also, can we begin her enrollment now or must we wait until she actually comes on board?

    • Mary Pat Whaley July 16, 2010

      Hi Kate,

      If you are going to bill under your PA’s Medicare number, or if your PA is going to order/refer for Medicare patients, she will need to be enrolled in PECOS, and for the time being, paper definitely seems the way to go. You will need to use a 855B for her Part B professional services and a 855R to assign her benefits to the group. Her ability to bill for your practice under her Medicare number will be retroactive for 30 days from the time her application is accepted, so the timing can be quite important. Hopefully, you would be submitting her paperwork and her application would be accepted (don’t forget to have her change her NPI record to your practice location) shortly after she comes on board. She can, however, see patients incident-to under a physician’s Medicare number (no new Medicare patients or Medicare patients with new problems) until she receives her acceptance. Make sure that the documentation reflects the physician’s name and his involvement in the visit.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  6. Jackie August 2, 2010

    Can we as the business office staff enroll our providers on PECOS? Or must the provider themselves enroll on the website? Our concern is if the provider does this incorrectly, WE lose money – not the provider. We have 150 providers and we have alway completed their applications for them – then have them review and sign. This seems to mean the providers must now do all the paperwork?

    • Mary Pat Whaley August 2, 2010

      Hi Jackie,

      Yes, you can and the easy way is on paper with the provider signing where appropriate. I have heard it is becoming easier to enroll online, but I am still hearing the easiest is the paper way. You can enroll for the provider online with their permission. Check out the great slide presentation that walks you through the online process to decide which way you want to go

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  7. Georgia September 8, 2010

    Would you have any suggestions on how a provider can received/request retro payments for therapy services provided before the therapist was certified with Medicare?

    • Mary Pat Whaley September 9, 2010

      Hi Georgia,

      I answered you via email. Thanks for your question!

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  8. Emily Carielo November 4, 2010


    If my physicians are already enrolled and i enroll them in PECOS online. How do i know for sure that they will not have a new Medicare number assigned to them??

    Please help….

    • Mary Pat Whaley November 6, 2010

      Hi Emily,

      The system will not allow a duplicate – at least that’s what they tell us! if you try to enroll your physicians in PECOS and they are already enrolled, the system will not re-enroll them. You have to have a NPI to enroll in Medicare via PECOS, and the NPI will be matched up and will not allow a duplicate record to be created. Your physicians can be providers with Medicare for many years and not have a record in PECOS, so be sure not to confuse having a Medicare number and being enrolled in PECOS.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  9. Ana January 11, 2011

    Hi Mary,
    I work with a group of pediatricians who do not treat Medicare patients, only Medicaid. Do they need to be enrolled in the PECOS system? Please advise.

    Thank you,

    • Mary Pat Whaley January 11, 2011

      Hi Ana,

      If your physicians never see Medicare patients, and your patients never have Medicare as a secondary payer (it does happen!) you do not need to enroll them in PECOS.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  10. Beverly March 21, 2011

    Do group NPI’s need to be enrolled in PECOS?

    • Mary Pat Whaley April 10, 2011

      Hi Beverly,

      At this time, there is no requirement for a group to be enrolled in PECOS. Group NPIs allow easier management of group payments, but do not currently relate to the PECOS system.

      Thanks for your questions.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  11. Tanya Lilly June 29, 2011

    If a physician has been listed on the pecos list last week, why would they be removed? I thought once the physician had registered, they would always be registered. Could you please clarify?

    • Mary Pat Whaley July 1, 2011

      Hi Tanya,

      This is the first I’ve heard of this problem. It doesn’t make sense, so I tend to think it’s a list or computer glitch on the PECOS side.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  12. Terry Blue October 18, 2011

    Why does PECOS not recognize my NPI number? I’m trying to revalidate but can’t get past the “Enter your NPI” section due to this. I have verified my information in NPPES, and that what I’m entering in PECOS verses how it reads in NPPES exactly matches. I also verified my name shows up in PECOS when I search by name to the link you provided to look up a provider. help?

    • Mary Pat Whaley October 19, 2011

      Hi Terry,

      It sounds like you’re doing everything right. I did read this and wonder if it applied to you “To access PECOS, your Authorized Official must register with the PECOS Identification and Authentication system. To register for the first time go to ogin to create an account.”

      Have you tried calling the number on the letter for questions? That might be the only thing left to do!

      Let us know what you find out.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat

  13. Nicole Fellows November 18, 2011

    I have been having trouble using the PECOS website for sole owners. The last three sole owner applications I tried have generated an 855B. The EUS help desk is telling me that since the physicians have an EIN they are considered an organization and therefore require an 855B. I have been e-mailing CMS, my local plan and the EUS help desk ad nauseum regarding this as the 855B is used for more than one owner. All three applications have obviously been denied and I have had to drop them all to paper in order to get the proper 855I form processed. I have even had a rather snarky manager from the EUS help desk walk me thru an application, convinced it was user error. When we again generated an 855B, her only advice was to complete it on paper. I cannot be the only one in the country who is having this issue! Please let me know if anyone else has experienced this problem, or how you complete enrollments for sole owners using PECOS; maybe it is user error!  PLEASE HELP!
    Thank you!

    • Mary Pat Whaley November 22, 2011

      Hi Nicole,

      I welcome readers to comment on their experiences. I am still hearing that managers continue to get better results on paper.

      Best wishes,

      Mary Pat