Letter to the editor

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I would like to respond to the letter "PECOS is a pickle for providers" in the January issue of HME News. I agree--I thought the NPI was the be all and end all. Why do they need anything more?

But you don't know half of the issues involved here for physicians. I have had my personal information stolen twice from databases—once from a lost Blue Cross Blue Shield computer and once from a lost VA hospital computer. So when I got my NPI number I submitted a passport for identification instead of my Social Security number (Common advice from identity theft experts).

In order to log into PECOS, however, I need an NPI login and I can't get an NPI login without a Social Security number.

Even if I agree to give my Social Security number for my NPI login, which I am loath to do, I would then be required to submit a new Medicare enrollment since I'm not in PECOS already and my current Medicare enrollment is more than five years old.

Here's where a cascade of consequences are set into motion that I can't afford. To do a new enrollment I would be required to accept electronic payments, which I don't want to do because it will not jibe with my accounting system, which prints bank-ready deposit slips based on paper checks for deposit. Talk about added headaches and unintended consequences! My accounting system works fine, as is, but its software maker, which has undergone numerous mergers, no longer supports it. Would I need to buy a complete new system for tens of thousands of dollars to deal with direct electronic payments? Even if I agreed to set up electronic payments, besides filling out another paper form, I would also need to get my bank to modify all loan agreements to nullify any offset provisions in the loans as they might apply to any funds deposited in my bank account by Medicare. I would need the bank to certify in a letter to Medicare that they agree to this and have modified the loans. Try getting a national bank to modify their standard loan agreements in today's climate.

I appreciate the predicament DME suppliers are in, but for now, I am going to have to just lay low and do nothing.

— Upset physician