AAHomecare: Create quality standards for negative pressure

Thursday, July 28, 2011

WASHINGTON - If CMS includes negative pressure wound therapy in future rounds of competitive bidding, the agency must create additional quality standards for the product category, AAHomecare told lawmakers last week.

Standards would help to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries receive quality care and treatment, says Carol Laumer, who served on an AAHomecare task force that has developed guidelines for providing NPWT.

"It does take something extra," said Laumer, executive director of Willmar, Minn.-based Rice Home Medical, which provides the therapy. "We have to have extra training. It's not just the local delivery guy delivering the pump."

In a July 26 letter, AAHomecare asked members of Congress to press CMS to create standards as an appendix to the current DMEPOS standards. The letter further urges lawmakers to sign on to a supporting Dear Colleague letter issued by Reps. Charles Gonzalez, D-Texas, Tom Price, R-Ga., and Michael Burgess, R-Texas.

In May, AAHomecare shared with CMS guidelines for providing NPWT surrounding intake and delivery; condition of the equipment; training/instruction to beneficiaries, caregivers and clinicians; infection control; and safety reviews.

"CMS absolutely agreed and said they understood the need for additional standards," said Alex Bennewith, senior manager of government affairs for AAHomecare. "We understood that CMS would implement them, but there's no guarantee."

Provider Chris Rice says standards could be a way to weed out companies that have no business doing NPWT, but he points out that he's already accredited to provide the therapy and that most pump manufacturers require providers to undergo training.

"There's a lot of requirements placed on us," said Rice, director of marketing for Riverside, Calif.-based Diamond Respiratory Care. "We had to bring on a nurse practitioner and she had to go to the class to learn their product."

Standards could also help to avoid what happened in the initial Round 1 of competitive bidding, during which multiple contracts were awarded to providers that had no experience, while large national providers like KCI and Medela were shut out. NPWT was not included in the Round 1 re-bid.

"We want to make sure that companies in that space are qualified in that space and don't bid low," said Bennewith. "There are obviously unique services that are required as part of this category."