PMD policies: ATS 'saw writing on wall'

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

PEMBROKE, N.C. - Connie Hess has enjoyed her first year as HealthKeeperz Home Health Care's performance improvement and education guru. Hess, an ATS, took the post last fall after the "power wheelchairs system fell apart."
"I was (HealthKeeperz's) only rehab specialist, but when they offered me this job, I took it," she said. "I saw the writing on the wall."
New documentation guidelines, Hess said, has put power wheelchairs and scooters under such scrutiny that "no one knows what they're doing anymore." The guidelines, which were finalized in June, require face-to-face exams and replace CMNs with physician prescriptions and medical records.
"I really feel like they're trying to get rid of (providers)," she said.
HealthKeeperz no longer accepts assignment on power wheelchairs and scooters from Medicare, Hess said. It continues to accept assignment for power wheelchairs from Medicaid, with a PT conducting the necessary evaluations.
Hess estimates it will take three years for providers to sift through the rubble of the documentation changes, but "eventually, it will all shake out," she said. Does that mean Hess expects to return to the field?
"I doubt that very much, but you know how it goes," said Hess, 54. "The moment you say, 'Only when hell freezes over,' the news comes out the next day that hell froze. So, although I wouldn't think that is in my future, one never knows."