Oklahoma providers must get accredited

Friday, August 31, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The state's Medicaid program, SoonerCare, notified home medical equipment providers in July that they must be accredited by a Medicare-deemed organization by Jan. 1, 2008. That's a tall order considering accrediting organizations are still scrambling to accredit providers who plan to participate in the first round of national competitive bidding.
"I don't have an issue with setting standards; I do have an issue with setting deadlines that are onerous," said Liz Moran, executive vice president of the Medical Equipment Suppliers Association (MESA). "It's not that providers in Oklahoma don't want to get accredited, but how are they going to do it when (the accreditors) don't have time for them?
"It's no one's fault," she continued. "The accreditors are swamped."
In a letter notifying providers of the new requirement, Medicaid states it wants to be in line with Medicare standards. CMS wants all providers to be accredited eventually, but it hasn't set a deadline yet.
Upon the news, Westmont Medical Services in Broken Arrow, Okla., initiated the accreditation process, but at press time, it hadn't signed on with one of the 10 Medicare-deemed accrediting organizations.
"It's going to be problematic--Oklahoma isn't necessarily the highest on the radar," said Rick Kelly, Westmont's general manager and one of MESA's board members. "(The accreditors) are trying to be accommodating. They're aware of the situation, and they're doing what they can to work us in."
At press time, providers like Kelly planned to discuss with Medicaid the challenges of meeting the Jan. 1 deadline.