CMS exempts docs from accreditation, but not HMEs

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

BALTIMORE -- Physicians and other medical professionals bestowed numerous thanks upon CMS officials during Wednesday's Open Door Forum. The reason: Under an addition to the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), they do not have to get accredited.

HME providers must still become accredited by Sept. 30, 2009.

A new subparagraph (F) added to MIPPA section 154(b) states that "eligible professionals and other persons are exempt from meeting the September 30, 2009 accreditation deadline until CMS determines that the quality standards are specifically designed to apply to such professionals and other persons."

Those eligible professionals include physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, physician assistants, nurses and several others.

CMS official Sandra Bastinelli emphasized that the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has discretion over the exemptions.

"Eligible professionals and other persons are exempt unless CMS determines that the quality standards are specifically designed to apply to such professionals," she said.

Bastinelli added that CMS will also, for the time being, exempt orthotists and prosthetists from the Sept. 30, 2009 deadline but said the agency will be issuing further clarification on the quality standards.

That means O&P fitters may have to get accredited at some point, but there will be an opportunity for comment beforehand. The proposed rule is expected to be issued during the first half of 2009, said Bastinelli.

Bastinelli continued her push to get HME providers rolling on accreditation, telling listeners that they need to get their applications in to their accrediting organization no later than Jan. 31, 2009 if they want to be assured of getting accredited in time.

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