CMS releases marketing reminder

Sunday, June 8, 2008

WASHINGTON - If you're a contract provider trying to figure out how to compete with other contract providers in your competitive bidding area, be aware of marketing rules and regulations, CMS warned in a Medicare Learning Network (MLN) Matters article last week.

The article states:
* "All of the existing rules and regulations marketing DMEPOS to beneficiaries under the fee-for-service program also apply to DMEPOS suppliers under competitive bidding.
* There is no difference for contract versus non-contract suppliers when it comes to these marketing rules.
* The Medicare program does not have specific rules or guidelines that provide guidance as to what a provider is allowed to do in marketing its items and services to the public."

CMS noted that the 21 supplier standards address marketing dos and don'ts. The standards:
* Prohibit the use of symbols, emblems, or names that refer to CMS or Medicare. "The use of such logos, names or words in advertisements may convey to the public the false impression that items or services are approved, endorsed or authorized," the article states.
* Prohibit providers from making unsolicited telephone contact--sometimes called "cold calling"--to Medicare beneficiaries. There are three exceptions: the beneficiary has given written permission to the provider to contact them by phone about furnishing an item; the provider has furnished a covered item and the provider is contacting the beneficiary about furnishing the item; or if the provider has furnished a covered item to the beneficiary during the past 15 months of the telephone contract, the provider may contact the beneficiary about other items that they are able to provide to the beneficiary if needed.

CMS plans to monitor marketing activity, the article states. If anyone has knowledge of a potential marketing violation by a provider, they should call 1-800-Medicare.