ABN meets lackluster reception

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Thursday, February 28, 2002

YARMOUTH, Maine - To the victors go the spoils, but it doesn't look like many are touching the spoils of the recently won Advanced Beneficiary Notice - neither the Medicare beneficiaries who can now upgrade the rental or purchase of DMEPOS equipment, or the DMEPOS suppliers who've been able to help beneficiaries upgrade since Jan. 1, if not earlier.

In this month's HME NewsPoll, only six of 50 respondents (12%) say they have filed a claim using the ABN. Some say they've been advised not to use the ABN yet; others say they don't know how.

The problem, according to Jane Bunch, president of Jane's Billing & Consultation Services, is coming from two places: the DMERCs and the software. The DMERCs aren't ready, she said, and none of the billing software, including hers has been re-engineered to process claims using the ABN. Since about 80% of Medicare claims are filed electronically, according to Bunch, four out of five HMEs would have to revert to a paper process to take advantage of the new benefit.

We've tried to do it on our software and it all came back on our front-end edit reports. It's not ready," she said. "You have to go back to hard copy."

At Fastrack Healthcare Systems, Spencer Kay said Medicare had already provided the specs necessary to write an update to his customer's systems. Fastrack expects to make the update available early this month.

"You need some lead time," said Kay. "It's not so much developing the code. It's the testing and documentation." HME

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