CMS adds another accreditation deadline to the mix

Sunday, January 6, 2008

BALTIMORE – Beginning March 1, new home medical equipment providers hoping to do business with Medicare will have to become accredited before they can get their billing number.

According to the latest information from CMS: New providers who submit enrollment applications to the National Supplier Clearinghouse before March 1, 2008, must obtain and submit proof of accreditation to the NSC by Jan. 1, 2009. Providers enrolling on or after March 1, 2008, must be accredited prior to submitting their NSC applications.

The requirement is raising questions—and eyebrows.

"If you were a small independent dealer, would you have gone through accreditation first?" asks Bob Weir, a surveyor for HQAA. "Probably not."

Typically, when providers submit an application to become accredited, they have to provide a Medicare billing number. But Mary Nicholas, executive director of HQAA, said providers should be able to indicate that the number is pending.

"I don't know if that's going to hold true," she said. "(If it does), then any new provider that's awaiting a Medicare number should be able to accomplish accreditation."

Still, some of the quality standards, which must be met as part of accreditation, run counter to the new requirement, said industry consultant Mary Ellen Conway, president of Capital Healthcare Group in Washington, D.C.

"You have to have a performance improvement program in place that monitors billing and collections to Medicare," she said. "But if you (can't bill Medicare), you’re going to have to have a re-visit, which costs money, which goes against Medicare's mandate to keep accreditation costs down."