Licensure: onward and upward

Thursday, January 31, 2002

YARMOUTH, Maine - HME licensure efforts continue to chug forward.

The Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services (OAMES) introduced a licensure bill last month, and New Hampshire has discussed tweaking its bill to make it more effective. In Alabama, which began issuing licenses to providers last year, the state has already put a number of providers on notice that they need to shape up.

"We have not revoked any licenses, but a number of companies have been given compliance plans to bring things up to speed," said Mike Hamilton, executive director of the Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association (ADMEA).

In Alabama, HMEs that operate without a license are subject to a fine of $1,000 a day, and face losing their Medicare and Medicaid provider numbers.

As in other states that have passed licensure bills, OAMES members want to "level the playing field" by requiring all providers to play by the same rules, said Kam Yuricich, OAMES executive director.

While reports of states revoking licenses are far and few between, that doesn't mean efforts to regulate providers on the state level aren't working, Hamilton said.

"I don't expect to see lot of people forced out of the business," he said.

"I think there will be a small number of people who decide it isn't worth the hassle and move on to something else because they can't or won't live by the rules. We won't see a dramatic shift. One day we'll all get up and say, 'Wow, things have really changed.'" HME