Bidding update: CMS selects accreditors

Sunday, December 31, 2006

WASHINGTON - In early November, CMS released the names of 11 organizations that have secured the tall task of accrediting providers who want to participate in national competitive bidding in 2007. The agency's list of "deemed accrediting organizations" includes the usual suspects: JCAHO, CHAP, ACHC, HQAA and The Compliance Team.
It also includes a few unfamiliar faces, at least to the HME industry, namely the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. But with as many as 150,000 Part B providers unaccredited nationwide, industry sources don't expect much of a turf war.
"There are enough providers out there to keep all 11 of us pretty busy," said Sherry Hedrick, director of clinical compliance and accreditation for ACHC. "We'll all find our place."
Rounding out the list: the National Board of Accreditation for Orthotic Suppliers; the Board of Certification in Pedorthics; the Board for Orthotist/Prosthetist Certification; and the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics.
CMS has approved most of the organizations to accredit all major provider types. Initially, the agency will require accreditation of only the providers in the 10 metropolitan statistical areas or MSAs where NCB will kick off some time in 2007; but eventually, all Medicare providers must become accredited.
After CMS made its announcement on Nov. 22, the approved accrediting organizations were preparing to post new standards on their Web sites and notifying existing and potential clients. (As part of the application process, the organizations had to mesh their standards with CMS's final quality standards.)
"We've always said that within five working days of being approved by CMS, we would have everyone flipped into the new set of standards, so they could being working through them," said Mary Nicholas, executive director of HQAA.
CMS still hasn't detailed how it expects the organizations to bring their existing clients up to speed with the new standards. But the agency has scheduled a Dec. 18th meeting with the organizations, presumably to discuss grandfathering and other loose ends, such as how the organizations will notify CMS of accredited providers.
Still, the organizations don't expect existing clients to have too much trouble, according to industry sources.
"There are many, many of CMS's standards--for example, equipment maintenance--that we have been surveying since 1998," said MaryAnn Popovich, executive director of JCAHO's homecare accreditation program. "So, we really don't feel that there'll be any need to reevaluate the organizations that are already accredited until, of course, their due dates come up."
Additionally, the organizations still need CMS to release additional information on NCB. Once the agency releases the 10 MSAs, for example, they'll begin prioritizing their surveys based on whether a provider is located in one of those cities.
Meanwhile, the approved accrediting organizations are very happy to have made the cut.
"We're just so excited," said Sandra Canally, president of The Compliance Team. "If we could get a blimp that could tell the whole world, we would."