AAHomecare supports federal accreditation for HMEs

Sunday, July 13, 2003

July 14, 2003

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - AAHomecare supports federal quality standards and accreditation requirements for durable medical equipment (DME) provided legislation is flexible in how it’s implemented.

AAHomecare released a position paper on mandatory accreditation last week in response to the Senate’s proposed Medicare reform bill (S.1). The bill calls for the establishment of federal quality standards and accreditation requirements for DME providers. Independent accrediting organizations would be designated by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with an expert panel of physicians, practitioners, suppliers and manufacturers. This expert panel would also review the standards developed by the accrediting bodies.

While embracing the notion of mandatory federal accreditation as a way to ensure the safety and effectiveness of DME products and services, AAHomecare offered the following “desired revisions” to the legislation:

- DME companies in states that already have licensure requirements should be “deemed” to have met the federal standards if the licensure requirements meet or exceed the new federal standards.

- DME companies currently accredited through existing bodies should be “deemed” to have met the federal standards if their existing accreditations’ standards meet or exceed what the federal government requires.

- Specialty DME companies such as rehab and assistive technology companies that provide products designed to accommodate unique medical and functional needs should have the option of seeking accreditation by bodies with standards specific to their specialty areas.

- The federal government must collaborate with the DME industry when developing the quality standards for the DME industry, as industry experts have inside knowledge of how DME companies operate and comply with quality standards.

- Specialty groups within the DME industry also should be included in the federal government’s expert panel. This will ensure that the federal government’s standards reflect the full range of products provided by DME companies, including unique products designed to accommodate the special needs of individuals with complex disabilities.

The Senate bill envisions a three-year phase-in of the quality standards, but AAHomecare stated that a five-year phase-in is more realistic to enable DME providers the opportunity to make operational changes to adapt to the new federal regulatory requirements. Moreover, time must be allowed to establish the quality standards and to survey DME companies, AAHomecare stated in its position paper.