Attack fraud with mandatory accreditation

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Q. How do we convince Congress and CMS that mandatory accreditation will save the federal government more money than competitive bidding?

A. Nearly four years after CMS launched its major crackdown on fraud related to the power mobility industry, the investigations, convictions, accusations and fraudulent billings continue.
How is this possible? The government still does not have an effective way to separate legitimate suppliers from the scam artists. Or do they? One way to finally stop it is with mandatory accreditation as a minimum requirement to even obtain a supplier number.
Whether you support or oppose accreditation—many suppliers have taken the necessary steps to become accredited. What they are likely learning (or have learned) is that the process can be costly. But the cost of accreditation is a small price to pay to return credibility to the power mobility industry and stop the fraud.
Last month, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt held a press conference announcing a major fraud initiative in South Florida and Los Angeles. The initiative, he said, is aimed at “stopping durable medical equipment fraud before it happens.” As part of the program, accreditation will be a mandatory requirement in these two regions. My question to the secretary: Shouldn’t this be a requirement nationally?
The initial initiative in south Florida identified 56 individuals who were able to electronically bill over $258 million from the Medicare program. Clearly, requiring mandatory accreditation for every supplier would save the Medicare program hundreds of millions of dollars, while restoring faith that Medicare beneficiaries are getting the appropriate healthcare solutions they need.
It’s time to attack Medicare fraud at the root cause, and that begins with mandatory accreditation.
Mark Leita is the director of public affairs for The Scooter Store. Reach him at 830-627-4717 or