In brief: CMS details new rules, committees hold fraud hearings

Thursday, March 3, 2011

BALTIMORE - As part of a new screening strategy, CMS will categorize newly-enrolling DMEPOS providers as high risk for fraud beginning March 25, the agency announced last week. Screening procedures for high-risk providers will include all current screening measures, a site visit and, at a future date, a fingerprint-based criminal background check. CMS will use three categories--limited, moderate and high risk--to determine the degree of screening that the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) processing the enrollment application should perform. The agency will categorize revalidating DMEPOS providers as moderate risk. Screening procedures for moderate-risk providers will include all current screening measures and a site visit. CMS's new screening strategy is required by the Affordable Care Act.

Also beginning March 25, CMS will require providers to submit a fee of $505 with their applications for Medicare enrollment. For more information on the new screening and application procedures, go to

Committees hold fraud hearings

WASHINGTON - At a hearing on healthcare fraud and abuse last week, a convicted felon told members of the House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee: "(Medical equipment) fraud is incredibly easy to commit." Ike Odelogu fraudulent billed Medicare for nearly $10 million worth of medical equipment between 2005 and 2008. The hearing was one of three held March 2. The other two hearings were held by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. All three have Medicare jurisdiction. Panelists at the meetings included representatives from the Government Accountability Office, the Office of Inspector General and CMS. No industry stakeholders were invited to speak, but AAHomecare distributed a statement reiterating the industry's commitment to fighting fraud and outlining its 13-point anti-fraud plan. Medicare has no official estimate of the amount lost to fraud each year, but the FBI estimates that that Medicare is defrauded of $135 million per day.

CMS posts bidding guidance on supplier transitions

BALTIMORE - CMS has posted FAQs to the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) website in response to questions raised by contract suppliers when a change in suppliers takes place during the start of the program. The FAQs can be found at under the link, "Transition from Non-Contract Suppliers to Contract Suppliers FAQs." CMS also announced that it plans to update the site this week. The easier-to-use site will include new features like an interactive map with details about each competitive bidding area.

Sen. Pat Roberts to keynote Legislative Conference

ARLINGTON, Va. - AAHomecare announced last week that Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., will present the keynote address at its Washington Legislative Conference March 16-17. He joins several other lawmakers scheduled to present, including Reps. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., and Tom Price, R-Ga. For more information, go to

AAH: Don't tax HME

ARLINGTON, Va. - AAHomecare's Manufacturer Device Tax Work Group submitted additional comments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last week, continuing to build the case that home medical equipment and supplies should be exempt from the 2.3% tax scheduled to go into effect in 2013. To read the comments, go to

Conference tackles costly re-admissions for oxygen patients

ORLANDO, Fla. - Respiratory therapists will be among those who plan to gather here on March 31 for the "Long Term Oxygen Therapy Conference: Separating Fact From Fiction." The two-day conference will focus on new tools to help RTs and other practitioners address costly re-hospitalizations for oxygen therapy patients and understand the critical factors affecting effective clinical therapy when patients move from the hospital to the home. The conference combines lectures and hands-on workshops by leading clinicians in the field of pulmonary medicine. For more information, go to

'Lunch and Learn' at Medtrade Spring

ATLANTA - Show producers Nielsen Expositions announced a new educational and networking opportunity at Medtrade Spring 2011: The "Lunch and Learn" roundtable event. The event, which will take place April 12 from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., offers attendees the opportunity to meet with leading industry experts and their peers to discuss current issues facing the home medical equipment industry. Discussions will focus on six topics: intake; inventory and purchasing; compliance; best practices; marketing and legal. The event, which is limited to 150 registrants, costs $25 and includes a boxed lunch. For more information, go to

'One look. One Covidien'

MANSFIELD, Mass. - Covidien in March launched unified packaging for more than 60,000 products--the final step in the transition from Tyco Healthcare to Covidien. "Our brand identity is now clear and consistent, from our business cards to our product packaging," stated Cynthia Ward, vice president, corporate marketing, in a release. The company's brands, including Mallinckrodt and Nellcor, will now be shown under the Covidien name, leveraging its motto "One look. One Covidien." The new packaging will be unveiled in a rolling launch over the next 12 to 18 months. It will reduce the number of customer-facing brands by more than 50%, allowing the company to streamline manufacturing and distribution, simplify internal processes and save money.

Stakeholders: Speak up on business obstacles

WASHINGTON - Industry stakeholders are encouraging home medical equipment providers to attend the Small Business Administration's roundtable discussions of President Obama's "Startup America" initiative. The discussions are designed to solicit feedback from entrepreneurs about the opportunities and obstacles in starting new businesses. Discussions will be held in the following cities: Austin, Texas; Boston; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Atlanta; Pittsburgh; Minneapolis; and Boulder, Colo. For more information, contact the SBA at