Industry demands mandatory deadline

Friday, November 30, 2007

WASHINGTON - By taking its time to set a final deadline for mandatory accreditation, CMS, which has had nearly four years to do so, is making it easier for crooks to pose as DME providers and defraud Medicare, say industry watchers.
"If CMS is trying to crackdown on fly-by-night operators, having an independent entity double check what the National Supplier Clearinghouse is doing would clearly be a positive step," said Walt Gorski, AAHomecare's vice president of government affairs. "Accreditors have a vested interest in visiting any provider they accredit; otherwise, they will be blamed for letting in bad actors."
Providers who plan to participate in the first round of national competitive bidding had to meet an Oct. 31 accreditation deadline. Industry officials now want CMS to set a final deadline for mandatory accreditation--the date that all providers who want to bill Medicare must meet. They fear that as long as CMS delays setting a final deadline for accreditation, providers will continue to procrastinate starting the process.
"CMS has to create a sense of urgency, because accreditors can't," said Sandra Canally, president of The Compliance Team.
"There is a lull (in accreditation)," added Mary Nicholas, executive director of HQAA. "It's almost scary quiet."
When compared to national competitive bidding, setting a date for mandatory accreditation appears fairly simple, but it's apparently easier said than done.
"The longer CMS puts off (mandatory accreditation), the less time providers have to react," Gorski said. "We'll get into a situation where the accreditors are overwhelmed and the suppliers don't have enough time."