Accreditation: Industry scrambles to meet subcontracting rule

Monday, August 31, 2009

BALTIMORE - A fact sheet on national competitive bidding that CMS published in August reminded providers that, in Round 1.2, subcontractors must be accredited to participate in the program.

Sandra Canally, president of The Compliance Team, has received a flurry of calls from subcontractors that seek to become accredited by the Sept. 30 deadline.

"It's the final hour and these folks are just coming into the picture," she said. "We are dealing with it."

The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), passed in July 2008, included a provision requiring subcontractors to become accredited. They did not have to be accredited during Round 1 last year.

There may be some confusion, however, about whether providers that perform repair services need to be accredited. Medicare's supplier standards say they do. So does Invacare, which performs wheelchair repair services through its Roadrunner Mobility division. Roadrunner is accredited by The Compliance Team.

Stakeholders don't believe, however, that manufacturers themselves need to be accredited.

"CMS needs to clarify this so there is a clear understanding of who needs to do what," said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. "We don't believe it's so broadly applicable as to include manufacturers."

For most rank-and-file providers, getting accredited has been a no-brainer. John Keegan, owner of Terrace Heights Pharmacy in Hazelton, Pa., received his accreditation in June, despite calls for a possible pharmacy exemption. He doesn't believe those efforts will succeed.

"With everything I've read, I felt rather than wait, I should go ahead and let the chips fall after that," he said. "(Besides), accreditation isn't a bad thing."

In the final weeks leading up to the deadline, providers are urged to make sure the National Supplier Clearinghouse knows that they are accredited and have obtained surety bonds.

"I've been telling my clients to send in an amended 855S form and get delivery confirmation just to be on the safe side," said industry consultant Roberta Domos.