In brief: VGM gives, Grassley chastises

Sunday, August 31, 2008

WATERLOO, Iowa - The VGM Group has split the revenues from the 18 national competitive bidding seminars it held in 2008 with various co-sponsoring state associations, it announced last week. Each seminar generated, on average, $5,500 in revenues. Each state association received, on average, $2.700. In addition to offering education about competitive bidding to providers, "we wanted to help state associations create revenue to fund their legislative activities and garner new membership," stated John Gallagher, vice president of government relations, in a release. The associations helped VGM promote the seminars.

Fraud: Sen. Grassley rips into CMS
WASHINGTON - Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has sent a letter to CMS demanding a "full accounting" of how the agency underestimated the extent of improper Medicare payments for DME in 2006, the Miami Herald reported last week. Grassley's letter comes on the heels of an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report that charges Medicare's outside auditor, AdvanceMed, with reviewing provider claims but not supporting documentation, including medical records. As a result, it reported an error rate of only 7.5%, when it should have been 28.9%, according to the OIG. "I'm asking questions to try to get to the bottom of why Congress--and in turn, the public--was misled about the rate of improper payments by Medicare," Grassley told the Herald. "There needs to be accountability." Due to the discrepancies in the 2006 audit, Grassley calls on CMS to conduct a follow-up review of Medicare payments for DME in 2007. Read the OIG's report at

CMS delays revised ABN
BALTIMORE - CMS plans to push back the implementation date for its revised advanced beneficiary notice (ABN), according to AAHomecare. The agency will require that providers begin using the form March 1, 2009, instead of Sept. 1, 2008. The revised ABN includes a new name (advanced beneficiary notice of non-coverage) and a new option that allows beneficiaries to choose to purchase items out-of-pocket rather than submit claims to Medicare. Check for updates.

Providers are happy with MACs, CMS says
BALTIMORE - Healthcare providers continue to be satisfied with the services provided by Medicare fee-for-service contractors that process and pay claims, showing "a relatively smooth transition" to the new Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs), CMS reported last week. On average, providers rated their satisfaction 4.51 on a scale of 1 to 6. Last year: 4.56. CMS has conducted its Medicare Contractor Provider Satisfaction Survey for three years now, with the goal of gathering and reporting objective, quantifiable data on providers satisfaction with the fee-for-service contractors. Go to for a summary report of the survey.

Stamped signatures: Docs can't use them
BALTIMORE - Providers who tell physicians it's OK to use stamped signatures on medical records are wrong, according to a recent Medicare Learning Network (MLN) Matters article. Medicare will accept handwritten, electronic signatures or faxes of original written or electronic signatures. To read the article, go to

Invacare highlights top athletes
ELYRIA, Ohio - Invacare and Invacare Top End feature news and event updates, and will add a medal count, from the Paralympics, Sept. 6-17 in Beijing, on a Web site that went live last week. The site,, highlights Team Invacare racing, handcycling, tennis and basketball athletes, including Ernst Van Dyk, the 2007 handcycling world champion. Information includes bios, photos and video files. The site also promotes Top End's sports and recreation technology--the chairs behind the athletes.

Former Medicare official switches teams
MIAMI - All-Med Services of Florida has named Ruben King-Shaw CEO of All-Med and Puerto Rico-based Clinical Medical Services, the company announced Aug. 28. King-Shaw served as a policy adviser and healthcare reformist under the Bush administration from 2001 to 2003. Prior to that, he was the secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the state's Medicaid program.