DHHS okays pre-discharge delivery

Thursday, January 31, 2002

WASHINGTON - The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has proposed a rule change that would allow home medical equipment to be furnished in a skilled nursing facility prior to discharge.

As part of an effort to meet President Bush's charge in the New Freedom Initiative, DHHS delivered the recommendations and other suggestions in a Dec. 21 preliminary report entitled, "Delivering on the Promise: Preliminary Report of Federal Agencies' Actions to Eliminate Barriers and Promote Community Integration."

The president's initiative would give people with disabilities access to the equipment and services they need to be independent and productive members of their communities.

Today, HME is only reimbursed if it's provided following the day of discharge, according to Ward Cook, president and CEO of the Tampa, Fla.-based Allegro Medical Billing. If HME can be reimbursed and provided the day of discharge, or even the day prior, that's "great news," he said.

"That's the way it should be," Cook said. "Right now, it's a Catch-22. A person who needs a walker can't get that equipment reimbursed until after he's discharged. But without it, he can't leave." HME