Accreditation: Hope for the best; prepare for the worst
Q. CMS has not deemed what agencies will be able to perform accreditation, and I am up for renewal. Should I renew or wait to see if my current accreditor is able to participate in the program?
A. If you are already accredited, your best bet is to continue with the organization you are familiar with. CMS has indicated that it will consider a grandfathering process for those that are already accredited, but it has been very vague on the details of how such a process will work. The new regulation will not take effect until 2007 - first with competitive bidding demonstrators and then for all remaining providers. Additionally, the proposal is still in draft form, and depending on the comments received, accreditation may never come to pass. If it does, CMS may choose to use multiple accrediting bodies to implement the standards. If you have not begun the accreditation process, however, you may want to hold off just a little longer (but not too much longer). Keep in mind that the final rule is scheduled for release in April 2006, and once it is out, the demand for accreditation will outweigh the capacity of the accrediting bodies to accommodate the entire nation of DME suppliers.
One thing is certain: You need to put your opinions, concerns and recommendations in writing to CMS before Nov. 28, so that they can be considered before a final rule is published. Have as many people on your staff and in your community as possible provide feedback - numbers count.
Andrea Stark is a Medicare consultant/billing specialist at MiraVista. Reach her at (803) 462-9959 or email@example.com.