In brief: Zip codes confuse providers, rally attracts media

Sunday, June 8, 2008

WASHINGTON - It doesn't appear CMS added additional zip codes to the Round 1 competitive bidding areas (CBAs) on the sly, as some initially worried. A provider in the Kansas City CBA was working on her grandfathering letters when she noticed CMS had added what appeared to be 37 new zip codes to the area, according to a release last week from the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services. After investigating the concern, AAHomecare officials learned that CMS had failed, on its master list, to distinguish between the zip codes for mail-order diabetes supplies and all other product categories (CMS has competitively bid mail-order diabetes supplies in more zip codes than other product categories). If providers use the tool on CMS's Web site to view CBAs instead of using the master file, the agency has included separate documents for mail order and non-mail order products, according to Walt Gorski, AAHomecare's vice president of government affairs. Still, the zip-code confusion, Gorski worries, may have led some providers to incorrectly notify beneficiaries of impending changes. "With only days until implementation, we believe these issues should have been resolved far earlier than now," he said. "It's another issue that points to the hasty nature in which this program has been implemented."

Rally garners media coverage
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Beneficiaries, HME providers and home health professionals rallied against national competitive bidding last week in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, and planned to be back on the picket line today in Orlando and tomorrow in Dallas. The rallies, organized by the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers Association (AMEPA), attracted local media coverage. A story in the Miami Herald, however, stated that Miami-Dade companies billed Medicare $1.68 billion in 2006, failing to differentiate between DMEs and all other Medicare providers. "It's very frustrating when they say things like that," said Rob Brant, AMEPA president. "We know it's only $22 million billed in the Miami MSA."

NPI? No problem
BALTIMORE - The official roll-out of the national provider identifier (NPI) system, which launched May 23, has gone better than expected, says CMS. "Most of the Medicare contractors are reporting that over 90% of claims are NPI-compliant, with some reporting 100% compliance," the agency stated in a release. The agency said it is still having problems with claims that contain legacy numbers in the secondary provider field, something it had been allowing up until May 23. Last week, a few states were experiencing problems with Medicaid programs that weren't ready to adopt NPI numbers yet, resulting in automatic denials of claims. Medicare said it was continuing to monitor problems and its progress has been substantial. For providers who experience cash-flow problems because of claims processing problems, there may be some financial relief available in the form of advance or accelerated payments. Providers should contract their Medicare contractors to determine if they are eligible.

Invacare wins Paralympic bid
ELYRIA, Ohio - Top End, Invacare's sports and recreation division, won the order to build more than 240 wheelchairs for the Chinese Paralympian team. China is one of the few countries that purchases equipment for its paralympic athletes. "The Chinese Paralympic Committee was looking for the equipment that would help their athletes go for the gold," stated Mary Carol Peterson, marketing manager for Invacare Top End, in a release. "They chose Invacare Top End." The ordered chairs include the Top End Paul Schulte Signature Series Titanium Basketball Chairs and the Top End T-5 Tennis Elite Chairs. The majority of the chairs will be made at the Top End facility in Pinellas Park, Fla. The Paralympics take place Sept. 6-17 in Beijing.