Providers refuse to budge
WASHINGTON - Even though HME providers must become accredited to participate in national competitive bidding, many have not yet begun laying the ground work to receive Medicare's stamp of approval, which could be required as early as this spring.
Several accreditors have reported that the number of applications they've received and the number of manuals they've sold has increased, but "it's not the volume we were expecting," said Tom Cesar, president and CEO of ACHC.
"We thought they would be more serious about beating the rush," he said.
In the first three weeks of January, ACHC sold about 60 manuals. While that's "healthy activity, I would have thought (we'd sell) 150," Cesar said. JCAHO reported a similar trend.
"January is coming in very nicely, but in terms of a spike, we haven't seen one," said Maryanne Popovich, executive director of the homecare accreditation program.
CMS plans to kick off NCB in 10 cities in October. The agency recently added Orlando to a list of 19 cities where the program may take place.
Accreditors agree that some providers, even those in the top 20 MSAs, probably won't make the leap toward accreditation until CMS sets a firm deadline or releases information on where NCB will take place and the products it will put out to bid.
"They're not going to budge before CMS releases that information," said Sandra Canally, president of The Compliance Team. "Then, Lord help us all, the floodgates are going to open."
Accreditors argue there's enough information out there for providers to take action.
"We've got the quality standards; the recognized accreditors; the 20 cities, 10 of which will be chosen for the first round," Popovich said. "There's a lot of stuff we know."
By waiting, providers are playing "Russian roulette," Cesar said.