Keep asking CMS: When will you publish final standards?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Q. What's going on with the new quality standards that everyone was buzzing about not long ago?
A. That's a very good question, and I wish I could give you a definitive answer but I can't.
The CMS public comment period ended Nov. 28, and it has been very quiet since then. I had the privilege of serving with several other professionals on an advisory committee to work on the service-specific standards for surgical dressings. After several hours of hard work, we came up with what we agreed were "workable" standards and submitted them to ABT Associates, the consulting firm charged with advising CMS.
We were also given an opportunity to provide feedback on the general supplier standards which they probably didn't want to hear.
We were told there would be no further public comment period and when the final draft was published it would be just that--final. I have inquired of my contacts with CMS as to when we could expect to see the final draft and the response was uniform: We don't know.
The people at ABT Associates said they hoped to see them out by "spring 2006." According to my calendar, the vernal equinox is March 20 and "spring" lasts until June 21. So the best answer I can provide is that they should be out sometime between March 20 and June 21, unless they are delayed.
My suggestion: Attend the upcoming Open Door Forums and ask the CMS officials attending the meeting when they will publish the final standards.
If you get the "We don't have anyone here who can answer that question" response, keep asking the question until you get an answer.


Michael Watson is vice president of government affairs for American Medical Technologies. Reach him at or (707) 542-0330.