Regulatory reform? Not so much

Thursday, October 20, 2011

WASHINGTON – It seemed promising last week, when CMS published a proposed rule that outlines a number of steps to reduce regulatory burdens on healthcare providers. The agency’s press release even named DME providers specifically.

CMS stated in a release that its “Medicare Regulatory Reform” rule “would identify and begin to eliminate duplicative, overlapping, outdated and conflicting regulatory requirements for healthcare providers and suppliers…including durable medical equipment suppliers.”

Specifically, CMS stated the rule would eliminate “the current Medicare requirement that automatically deactivates a provider or supplier who has not submitted a claim for 12 consecutive months, keeping providers from inadvertently being barred from re-enrolling in Medicare for a certain period.

But that seems to be the extent of it, for DME providers at least, industry stakeholders say.

“That’s the one positive in there for DME providers,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.

If stakeholders had a wish list of regulatory burdens they’d like to see reduced, audits would be on it, stakeholders say. But this rule probably isn’t the venue for that, they acknowledge.

“The reviews that are retroactive or the reviews that are based on requirements that weren’t in effect or on made-up policies—those are the biggest issues,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “But there’s nothing in writing that’s publicly available that directs the auditors to do these kinds of things, so it doesn’t rise to the level of regulation.”

Despite the anti-climatic nature of CMS’s announcement, stakeholders say it does open the door for them to have further conversations with the agency on this topic.

“We’re pleased that CMS is evaluating duplicative regulations for DME,” said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. “This gives us an opportunity to go beyond what the proposed rule is identifying.”

AAHomecare’s regulatory council plans to submit comments on the proposed rule, Gorski said.

To view the rule, go to; to submit a comment, go to