Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Supplement the supplier standards
with Tim Zipp

T. Zipp

Q. Over the past 6-months our industry has put together a strong case for what went wrong in Harris County and now Dallas, Texas. Criminals have invaded our industry committing blatant fraud by paying physicians for referrals, paying Medicare beneficiaries to come see their doctors, and billing for items never delivered. What can be implemented in our industry to prevent this from happening again if CMS’s 10-point plan doesn’t work to stop fraud?

A. The following are some ideas, which include some additional supplier standards.

4 Random and unannounced NSC visits AFTER initial site visit.

- Require suppliers to have a physical location with a supplier number in proximity to service customers;

- Require suppliers to service items that they rent and items that they sell;

- DMEPOS delivery and service personnel should be W-2 employees and bonded;

- Surety Bonds have been through the Federal Register comment and final approval process. They should be implemented now.

- All Suppliers of DME must be accredited by a nationally recognized accreditation agency.

With thousands of companies providing this invaluable equipment, we must form one strong unified voice! That, however, takes individual initiative. If you are not a member of a mutually supported organization, join one now. If you are not currently active in your state DME organization, please get involved now. We cannot and should not rely upon CMS to regulate the industry. We must take action to stop fraud. There are many groups pushing for higher standards. Now, more than ever, we must be proactive in our approach. In the end, we are all in this fight together.

Tim Zipp is executive vice president for government relations at The Scooter Store. For comment, e-mail him at tzipp@thescooterstore.com