CMS: Accreditation increases quality of care

Sunday, January 27, 2008

BALTIMORE – Accreditation is not just about writing a check and waiting for a survey, and it’s up to providers to stay on top of the process, CMS official Sandra Bastinelli told 1,400 listeners during a Jan. 22 teleconference.

The conference, “DMEPOS Accreditation 101,” was the first in a series of four designed to give guidance to providers on accreditation. The next is scheduled for April 17.

While listeners to the conference seemed resigned to accreditation, it was clear from the questions—which ranged from providers needing clarification on deadlines to the specific policies and procedures of the deemed accrediting agencies—that confusion lingers.

In addressing that confusion, Bastinelli advised providers to keep in touch with their accreditors. The No. 1 problem in 2007 was incomplete applications, she said.

"Do not sit back and wait," said Bastinelli. "Do not assume that because you have sent a check in that you will (make) the deadlines. Go to your organization and they will tell you what your timeline is."

Several callers asked where to find a copy of the quality standards. The Web address:

Additionally, many callers were still trying to grasp which product categories are included in competitive bidding, with callers asking if covered items included pediatrics, enteral nutrition and Part B inhalation drugs.

The answers: yes on pediatrics, in the rare case the patient has Medicare; no on the drugs, but yes on the equipment used to furnish the drugs; and yes on enteral nutrition.

It can be confusing, officials acknowledged.

"Many pharmacies consider (nutritionals) to be drugs but they are considered items and services under DMEPOS," Bastinelli said.

A replay of the conference is available until 11:59 p.m. EST Jan. 29. Call 800-642-1687 and enter the passcode 25607950.