CMS has eye on oxygen providers

Sunday, September 21, 2008

BALTIMORE - CMS officials have a message for HME providers that have unnecessarily replaced oxygen equipment within the 36-month rental period: We're watching you.

During last week's Open Door Forum, Joel Kaiser, CMS's deputy director of DMEPOS policy, told 355 callers that CMS is "keeping tabs" on providers that replaced equipment in violation of a current federal regulation. The reg states providers may replace equipment only if a physician orders different equipment; the beneficiary elects to upgrade to newer technology; or the equipment has been lost, stolen or irreparably damaged, he said. If the equipment has been lost, stolen or damaged, the replacement equipment must be of similar make and model.

Kaiser did not offer any more details about the oxygen cap, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2009, other than to say CMS is still "analyzing and planning for implementation." Same goes for national competitive bidding.

"We expect to make public announcements soon regarding implementation of these provisions, but at this point we are still in the planning stages," Kaiser said.

Accreditation help
Also during the forum, CMS official Sandra Bastinelli announced an Oct. 14 onsite conference for non-accredited DMEPOS providers. The conference will instruct providers on how to comply with the DMEPOS quality standards. Providers can register online at

Bastinelli also addressed a question from the Sept. 3 forum: Do federally qualified health centers that provide DMEPOS supplies have to meet the accreditation deadline of Sept. 30, 2009? Yes.

"DME is not covered within the Medicare FQHC benefits," she said. "All FQHCs would need to have a DMEPOS supplier number in order to bill for those separately and go through the same process as any other DME supplier."

ABN update
CMS also announced that the mandatory implementation date for the revised Advanced Beneficiary Notices (ABN) has been extended: March 1. On that date, the ABN-G and ABN-L will no longer be valid.

The revised ABN and instructions are available at Questions can be e-mailed to

The next Open Door Forum is scheduled for Oct. 29.