Industry meets CMS administrator

Friday, November 30, 2007

WASHINGTON - Representatives from the HME industry had a "positive meeting" with Kerry Weems, CMS's acting administrator, Oct. 24.
"We didn't expect any major policy decisions to come out of it, but we wanted to raise his awareness," said Alan Landauer, chairman of both AAHomecare and Landauer Metropolitan in Mount Vernon, N.Y. "Now he knows our positions on certain issues aren't that far apart."
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., helped to secure the hour-long meeting with Weems. On the agenda: issues concerning fraud and abuse; national competitive bidding and mandatory accreditation; power mobility devices (PMDs); and home oxygen therapy.
The industry appeared to make the most headway with PMDs, a subject Weems was "well versed in," participants said, due to his experiences watching someone close to him with ALS go through the process of getting a complex wheelchair.
"He's looking to relook at including complex rehab in competitive bidding," said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. "We provided him with a pretty strong case verbally."
Part of that case: CMS has already implemented a 27% cut, on average, for PMDs. That, along with more stringent documentation requirements, has resulted in a 30% reduction in utilization, according to industry estimates.
On fraud, Weems recognized that "the vast majority of people in our industry aren't professional racketeers and thieves," Landauer said. Weems seemed open to having staff members shadow providers to see how the program works in the real world, participants said.
On accreditation, however, Weems toed the company line.
"CMS's continual reluctance to move forward with mandatory accreditation is very frustrating," said Eric Sokol, director of the Power Mobility Coalition. "(Weems) said CMS can't be too nimble, but when they want to make a payment change, they make it happen. Mandatory accreditation just seems to sit out there."