New standards: Industry seeks more time to comply

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BALTIMORE -- With Medicare's new supplier standards set to go into effect Monday, industry stakeholders this week asked CMS for a six-month grace period on enforcing them.

"These rules represent significant changes that providers will have to address, which is why we need more time," said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. "It is simply inconceivable that CMS could enforce these provisions 30 days after they are published."

The standards, which were released Aug. 26, would require, among other things, that suppliers meet minimum size requirements for their locations; maintain permanent, visible signage; and staff their locations at least 30 hours per week.

That last one has raised a lot of concern.

"Someone who is not open 30 hours a week is going to have to expand," said Joan Cross, executive director of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Services. "I know a provider who is basically appointment-only. I am not saying (CMS) is going to bust in his door on the 27th, but (these are major changes)."

Other changes to the supplier standards include an expansion of the prohibition on unsolicited contact with Medicare beneficiaries; and a prohibition on contracting for certain services in states where licensure is required.

"CMS has not even issued guidance to the homecare community (on these standards)," said Gorski.

With providers trying to keep up on a whole host of issues, stakeholders are scrambling to ensure that all HME providers understand the changes to the supplier standards. Rose Schafhauser, executive director of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services, detailed the standards in a recent newsletter to members and issued a call for questions through the National Suppliers Clearinghouse Advisory Committee.

"It's strange--I've received very few responses," she said. "My guess is people are already doing this stuff. Either that or they don't realize it's going to become effective Monday, so they haven't even paid that much attention."