Q and A: Teresa Camfield

Monday, September 27, 2010

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. - Whoever came up with the phrase "wearing multiple hats" may have had Teresa Camfield in mind. In February, Camfield became not only the reimbursement manager for Pennyrile Home Medical, based here, but also the executive director of the Kentucky Medical Equipment Suppliers Association (KMESA). In addition, she serves on both the Region B and C supplier advisory councils. Previously, she worked for Rotech Healthcare, Pacific Pulmonary Services and, from 1996 to 2001, Palmetto GBA as a senior ombudsman. Now that Camfield's settled in at Pennyrile and KMESA, HME News caught up with her to talk about what her experience brings to the association and why there's a big difference between how the government and providers view HME.

HME News: I bet you don't have much free time?

Teresa Camfield: I have absolutely none.

HME: Having worked for the government for five years, you probably bring some unique skills to running a state association.

Camfield: I think it has been very beneficial for our members because I'm well-versed in the Medicare coverage and payment rules. I understand the language. I also understand a lot about the way they think. I can say, "This is what they're going to do," even though I don't know for sure. Based on working there and knowing how they think through things, I'm usually right.

HME: How have things changed since you stopped working for the government in 2001?

Camfield: Over the past five years, especially, there's been a total concentration on DME companies being "fraudulent." It doesn't matter who you are; CMS thinks every DME company is fraudulent. CMS's goal is to put DME suppliers out of business and reduce the number of suppliers.

HME: But DME is such a small part of Medicare.

Camfield: Correct. It's approximately 1.7% of the total cost of the Medicare program, yet CMS seems to think there's enough money to be recouped there that it would reconcile the deficit.

HME: Any other changes?

Camfield: Another big one: The contractors don't educate like they used to. They don't do on-site visits for free anymore and they don't do as many in-person workshops.

HME: Having the background you do with the government, what's the biggest shock to you about HME providers?

Camfield: The one thing that is always a little bit shocking to me is that providers don't stay up to date on the regulatory and the LCD changes, and they don't have people in their offices, in a lot of cases, that are current on those things. That puts them at risk.

HME: You are working for a small HME provider now (Pennyrile has four locations). How is that the same or different from working at a Rotech or Pacific Pulmonary?

Camfield: Even though you're small, you still have to do a really good job to be profitable. You can't forget about collections. Providers think, "I have to get the business, I have to get the business." It's one thing to get the business and another thing to get paid for it. They need to understand that they need to have a good plan for marketing and a good plan for collections, and those should work hand-in-hand with their education processes.

HME: Any other advice for HME providers?

Camfield: They have to completely understand the rules but they also have to figure out a way to meet the rules. They have to meet Medicare's minimum requirements across the board. If they do that, they will be covered for any other payer out there. They don't need to look for ways to get around the rules, because that's just going to come back to bite them in an audit.