Hospice-focused HMEs scramble to get accredited

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

HME providers with hospice contracts took recent accreditation requirements in stride. A new payment policy for hospices requires they contract only with HMEs that are accredited. The HMEs must become accredited, even if they don’t do any Medicare business.

“We are working feverishly to get accredited,” said Tony Myrell, president of Premier Medical in Colton, Calif. “Since we only do hospice, we didn’t even have a Medicare provider number.”

A notice in the Federal Register in June said that effective Dec. 2, 2008, hospices can only contract with accredited HME providers.

Confusion arose when providers interpreted this to mean they had to complete accreditation by then. CMS later clarified the rule, saying providers can supply the hospice with a letter stating it is in the process of becoming accredited by the Sept. 30, 2009, deadline.

Provider Tom Coogan, director of industry affairs and managed care agreements for the Portland, Ore.-based Care Medical, says the accreditation requirement has already brought him potential new business. Care Medical has been accredited since 1992.
After the announcement, he received three requests for proposals (RFPs) from hospices.
“Two of the three RFPs were contracts we had lost to competitors years ago,” said Coogan. “Now, we’ve got the edge.”

While it may seem like just one more shot at HME providers, they probably shouldn’t take it too personally, said Chris Roode, senior vice president of Tempe, Ariz.-based StateServ Medical.

The accreditation requirement is simply part of Medicare’s effort to prevent problems in the burgeoning hospice industry, he said.

“They are requiring hospices to be more detailed with what they send to Medicare for reimbursement,” he said.