Create quality standards for negative pressure, says AAHomecare

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

WASHINGTON – If CMS includes negative pressure wound therapy in future rounds of competitive bidding, then the agency must create additional quality standards for the category, says AAHomecare.

In a letter to lawmakers yesterday, AAHomecare asked members of Congress to press CMS to create the standards as an appendix to current DMEPOS standards, to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries receive quality care and treatment. The letter further urges lawmakers to support a July 18 Dear Colleague letter issued by Reps. Charles Gonzalez, D-Texas, Tom Price, R-Ga., and Michael Burgess, R-Texas. That letter seeks support in urging CMS Acting Administrator Donald Berwick to establish NPWT standards.

AAHomecare in May proposed NPWT standards to CMS standards that included guidelines for intake and delivery; condition of the equipment; training/instruction to beneficiary, caregivers and clinicians; infection control; and safety reviews.

"They absolutely agreed and said they understood the need for additional standards," said Alex Bennewith, senior manager of government affairs for AAHomecare. "We understood that CMS would implement them, but there's no guarantee."

In its letter to lawmakers, AAHomecare states:

Additional standards will ensure that providers of these products provide necessary levels of training, education and 24/7 patient support to minimize safety risks for NPWT home patients, which would be consistent with the goals of the FDA and CMS. Additional NPWT standards will help ensure that only those providers qualified to furnish the full range of services associated with NPWT are eligible to furnish these services.

When contracts were awarded in the product category during the original Round 1 of competitive bidding, they went to providers who had no experience in providing the complex therapy, while large national providers like KCI and Medela were shut out. Further, because their bids were non-binding, they could walk away from the contract, creating access issues for beneficiaries.

"We want to make sure that companies in that space are qualified in that space and don't bid low," said Bennewith. "There are obviously unique services that are required as part of this category."

NPWT was not included in the Round 1 re-bid, but could be included in future rounds of competitive bidding.