Not accredited? Time's running out

Sunday, October 5, 2008

YARMOUTH, Maine - When the calendar flipped to October last week, the one-year countdown to the Sept. 30, 2009, accreditation deadline began.

Accrediting organizations say business is steady, but applications aren't exactly flying in.

"There's definitely been an increase, but it's nowhere near where it needs to be," said Sandra Canally, president of The Compliance Team.

CMS has recommended that providers have their applications in to accrediting organizations by Jan. 31, 2009, if they want to make sure they meet the September deadline.

That's not a drop-dead date, but it's a good guideline, says Bob Floro, director of homecare accreditation for JCAHO.

"If they apply after Jan. 31, CMS's position is they can't guarantee they'll be surveyed," he said. "But if the accreditor can get them surveyed, they will."

The next couple of months will probably get busier, said Mary Nicholas, executive director of HQAA.

"They are going to start waking up," she said. "Then it will get crazy."

With both a 9.5% reimbursement cut and the 36-month oxygen cap set to begin in January, some holdouts could be weighing whether or not to continue billing Medicare.

"Some of them may say accreditation is not worth the cost and dump that revenue stream," said Tom Cesar, president and CEO of ACHC. "In the long run they will be sad they didn't. The baby boomers aren't slowing down."