In brief: Lawmakers ask GAO to step in, Blum sends letter

Friday, June 29, 2012

WASHINGTON – A group of high-ranking lawmakers last week asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine whether audit contractors are working efficiently. Leadership of the Senate Finance, House Energy and Commerce, and House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight asked the GAO to conduct a study "that focuses on coordination among contractor efforts and CMS efforts to oversee these contractors to ensure that they are working efficiently." The Senate Finance Committee has been collecting comments from the HME industry about the audit process and is expected to issue a summary document with ideas to improve the process sometime this fall.

To read the letter:

Blum letter confirms message fell on deaf ears

POTOSI, Mo. – Provider Patrick Naeger has received a letter from Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, following a recent town-hall style meeting here to discuss competitive bidding. Naeger, executive vice president of Perryville, Mo.-based Healthcare Equipment & Supply Co., and other healthcare professionals expressed concerns that including rural Washington County in the program would impede patient access to care. In the letter, Blum offers assurance that CMS will "aggressively monitor" implementation of competitive bidding, but he reiterates his support for the program. "Beneficiaries in Washington County will personally benefit from the savings generated by this program in terms of lower co-payments," he states the letter.

Gas prices and bidding don't mix

WASHINGTON – High fuel prices and competitive bidding are a dangerous combination, provider Phil Kerr told members of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access on June 25. Kerr, president of Home Medical Express in Elmhurst, Ill., said that rising high fuel prices prevented him from hiring additional employees. Kerr said his annual fuel costs increased 95% from 2009 to 2011. When he submitted bids for Round 2 of competitive bidding, he had to factor in a guess as to what gas prices will be in 2016. If fuel prices suddenly increase, HME providers who were awarded contracts will not receive any adjustments, he said. "If a fuel crisis occurs, many HME providers will be forced to close their doors," he told the committee. Read his full testimony here:

AAHomecare: CMS needs to do some housekeeping

WASHINGTON – Before CMS gets approval for additional documentation requests (ADRs), it needs to improve its review process to reduce audit burdens and improve the quality of the information its contractors collect, AAHomecare stated in comments submitted last week to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The association recommends that CMS require contractors to develop, officially publish, and adhere to consistent documentation standards that apply prospectively in the four DME MAC jurisdictions; require contractors to request only the level and quality of information necessary to perform a review; require contractors to implement procedures to prevent repeat audits of a beneficiary’s claims for the same piece of equipment; and allow contractors to rely on documentation available in a provider’s records to verify physicians’ signatures or proof of delivery. CMS made its request in April.!documentDetail;D=CMS-2012-0054-0001

Rotech's hands are clean

ORLANDO, Fla.– Rotech Healthcare was named the grand prize winner of The Healthy Workplace Project for its approach to hand and surface hygiene, it was announced June 27. Rotech, which will receive customized health and wellness services valued at $15,000, was recognized for its focus on employee education, including posters and a newsletter. Rotech regularly disinfects work surfaces and performs "field testing" to evaluate the effectiveness of is programs. The Healthy Workplace Project was created by Kimberly Clark Professional to help companies offer a healthier, more productive environment.

K0823 error rate: 82%

WASHINGTON – The K0823 error rate from Jan. 1, 2012, to March 31, 2012, in Jurisdiction B was 82%, according to a prepay review by National Government Services, the DME MAC. The top reason for denial: the medical records received did not establish medical necessity (65%). Other reasons include no sufficient evidence that a physician face-to-face mobility examination occurred; seven element order or detailed product description was invalid or incomplete; and no response to the medical review additional documentation request.

VGM offers re-compete seminar

WATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group will travel to the nine cities included in Round 1 of competitive bidding to give seminars on the re-compete program scheduled to kick off this fall. During the daylong seminars, VGM’s bidding expert Mark Higley will cover all facets of the re-compete, including registering for the program, submitting bids and filing hard copy documents. He will also cover strategies and pitfalls. Attendees will receive take-home CDs that include various preparation “tools” and checklists. The cost: $199 for the first attendee and $149 for additional attendees. VGM has scheduled the seminars for September and October in Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh and Riverside, Calif. It will announce exact dates and locations after Aug. 1. CMS plans to announce a bidding schedule for the re-compete program sometime this summer. It plans to open bidding in the fall. For more info on the seminar: 800-642-6065

For more info on the re-compete program:

Medtrade to create retail area

ATLANTA – In a nod to retail sales, Medtrade plans a 4,500-square-foot Home and Retail Design Center on the show floor. The display will depict what an HME provider’s showroom would look like, including standard DME and oxygen, alongside retail cash items, stated Jerry Keiderling, president of Accessible Home Improvement of America, The VGM Group, in a release. “Providers must look for diverse opportunities to bring in revenue," he stated. "The retail cash market is one way to that." Medtrade takes place Oct. 15 to 18 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. For more information:

RESNA offers discount

BALTIMORE – RESNA has discounted its Seating & Mobility Specialist Certification (SMS) application fee by $50 through Aug. 1. To qualify for the exam, applicants must hold an assistive technology professional (ATP) credential and have at least 1,000 hours of direct experience with seating and mobility. For more information:

People news: Milo Schmidt

Waterloo, Iowa-based VGM & Associates has named Milo Schmidt regional account manager of the year. Schmidt’s territory comprises northern California, northern Nevada, Oregon and Washington state. “Milo achieved the highest combined total of the parameters on which we rate our team members,” stated Rob Bendell, president of VGM and Associates in a release.