Providers enjoy accreditation reprieve

Sunday, August 12, 2007

WASHINGTON - With two more months to meet CMS's accreditation deadline, providers in the 10 competitive bidding areas can "breathe a little," says Mary Nicholas, executive director of HQAA.

Providers who need more time to prepare for surveys will benefit most from the extension, say the accreditation agencies.

"For us, it wasn't a rousing cheer," Nicholas said. "It was more like, 'Oh, we can breathe.' Providers can breathe a little; we can breathe a little."

CMS in late July extended the deadline for accreditation from Aug. 31, 2007, to Oct. 31, 2007.

For many providers, the pressure to not only get accredited but also submit bids for national competitive bidding by the end of the summer, proved too much, the accrediting agencies said.

"Some organizations were rushing to get through and, as a result, they had some deficiencies," said Terry Duncombe, president and CEO of CHAP. "We've seen an increase in deficiencies. Now they have time to make corrections."

Providers who couldn't squeak in under the original deadline will also benefit from the extension, the accrediting agencies said.

"We had turned away more than 20 providers, because we couldn't guarantee that we could survey them by the Aug. 31 deadline," said Tom Cesar, president and CEO of ACHC. "We called them back and told them we could get them in now."

Sandra Canally, president of The Compliance Team, agreed "more providers can get into the game now."

Despite conducting record numbers of surveys for July--at ACHC alone, there were more than 100--the accrediting agencies still wonder why more providers aren't getting accredited.

"No one has seen the numbers we anticipated," Duncombe said. "I think it's a combination of providers not understanding what's really happening and providers opting not to bid."