In brief: Providers report deactivations, House repeals device tax

Friday, June 8, 2012

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Some HME providers have had their Medicare supplier numbers deactivated during the revalidation process, AAHomecare reported last week. The Affordable Care Act requires all Medicare providers that enrolled with Medicare prior to March 25, 2011, to revalidate their enrollment information within 60 days of receiving notification letters from the National Supplier Clearinghouse (NSC). The problem: Some providers “have missed the letters,” AAHomecare says.

If your supplier number has been deactivated, submit the required information on the PECOS site and your supplier number should be reactivated within 10 business days, the association says. Claims that were submitted while your supplier number was deactivated will need to be resubmitted.

AAHomecare says it is working closely with CMS on this issue. To see if a revalidation letter was mailed to you, go to

House repeals device tax

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives last week voted 270-146 to repeal a 2.3% tax on medical devices scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2013. The Democrat-ruled Senate, however, is unlikely to follow suit, according to news reports. Still, the measure’s lead sponsor, Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., told Politico that, “We have a chance and opportunity to stop this tax dead in its tracks.” How? Republicans in the Senate may try to force a vote on the measure by bringing it up as an amendment, Politico reported.

Study: Bidding design has 'potential for disaster'

PASADENA, Calif. – Medicare's competitive bidding "fails to generate competitive prices…and fails to satisfy demand," says a new study from Caltech. The study, published in the May issue of The Quarterly Journal of Economics, was done by Charles Plott, a professor of political science and economics at Caltech, and students Brian Murlob and Yuanjun Zhang. The study makes the case that the auction structure, as it currently stands, doesn't work for two key reasons: The selling price is set at the median of all winning bids; and the bids are non-binding, according to a story in Pasadena Now, a local newsmagazine. Pasadena Now also reported: The median price will also be very low—so low, in fact, that few of the companies can actually afford it, leading them to cancel their offers. At the extreme, nothing is bought or sold and, Plott says, “the auction crashes. It’s just not an effective auction.” And what will happen then, critics warn, is that the government will end up negotiating prices with individual companies—negating the whole point of a competitive-bidding scheme in the first place, according to Pasadena Now. “You can see immediately from theoretical arguments that the potential for disaster is built right in the strategic structures," Plott says. The study supports what the industry and others, including auction design experts, have said all along: The design of the CMS program encourages low-ball bids.

Bid lawsuit: Appeals court affirms earlier ruling

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision to throw out a competitive bidding lawsuit filed by the Texas Alliance for Home Care Services against Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. The lawsuit sought to force CMS to specify the financial standards that providers must meet under the competitive bidding program; and to provide proper notice and opportunity for public comment on those standards.

CMS set to release oxygen billing report

BALTIMORE – CMS on June 26 will release a national provider comparative billing report (CBR) on home oxygen services, it announced last week. Produced by SafeGuard Services, the CBRs contain data-driven tables and graphs that compare a supplier's billing and payment patterns to those of other suppliers. The reports are only available to the suppliers who receive them. FMI: or 530-896-7080.

Two mobility forums planned for June

BALTIMORE – CMS has announced the next Open Door Forum for its electronic clinical template for power mobility devices: June 14 from 2-3 p.m. EST. Providers may dial in at 800-837-1935 with the conference ID 69287910. Two weeks later, CMS will host another Open Door Forum to discuss the seven-state power mobility device demonstration project. That forum will be June 28 from 3-4:30 p.m. EST. Dial in at 866-501-5502 with the conference ID 61960445. 

USM buys Medical Mobility

ST. LOUIS – United Seating and Mobility (USM) announced June 1 that it has finalized a stock purchase of Medical Mobility. Medical Mobility will continue to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of USM. The three-location buy opens up a Tennessee market for USM and connects to locations in Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas, stated Bob Gouy, USM president and CEO. "Entering this market creates an opportunity to enhance our service to the regional rehab centers in these states, as well as their patients with complex mobility needs," he stated.

Use Fastrack, use iPad

PLAINVIEW, N.Y. – Fastrack Healthcare Systems announced last week the availability of a new client application that allows clients to use apple iPads and Android operating systems to access their homecare enterprise software. Clients can even use the devices to access Fastrack’s delivery automation and equipment maintenance module, which allows delivery personnel in the field to verify that the correct product is being delivered, capture the patient’s signature and collect COD amounts by processing credit cards. Clients who use Fastrack’s hosted environment can download the iPad or Android app for free. Those with an on-site server must purchase a software license from Fastrack. 

CMS eases PECOS process

BALTIMORE – CMS has improved the electronic signature process in Internet-based PECOS, it stated in a message last week. An authorized official (AO) and delegated official (DO) of an organization will be allowed to e-sign applications and/or authorization statements and electronic funds transfer instead of being directed to a separate e-signature application. However, if the AO or DO is not the individual completing the application or if they do not currently have access to PECOS, they will continue to receive an email directing them to the separate PECOS E-signature Application.

Lots of denials for therapeutic shoes

WASHINGTON – National Government Services, the Jurisdiction B DME MAC, denied 86% of claims for therapeutic shoes, it stated in a message last week. As of March 31, 2012, NHG has reviewed 215 claims, of which 178 were denied. The top reasons for denial include not responding to an additional documentation request letter; insufficient or no medical records; and invalidation or no documentation of an in-person physician visit within six months.