Require accreditation? No Way!

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Congress has passed Medicare reform legislation in both houses that will hurt the HME industry, whatever the outcome. One of the Senate bill’s provisions included a requirement that HME companies be accredited by a recognized accreditation organization. While we agree that achieving accreditation is a good quality tool for HME providers, we are against legislation that continues to erode reimbursement without the government addressing the increasing administrative burden associated with doing business with Medicare. If the government wants HME providers to become accredited to demonstrate achievement of quality standards, then we would request a simplification in the burdensome CMN process required by Medicare.

The CMN process is a “no win” situation for the HME provider simply because the physician who is responsible for completing and signing the CMN has no financial incentive for completing it, either correctly or in a timely manner resulting in significant billing costs for the provider.

Any HME can tell you that the administrative burden of doing business with Medicare is significant, and history has proven that the government doesn’t trust HME providers. Therefore, the purposes behind government-regulated accreditation, one could surmise, would be to reduce the fraud and abuse found in the HME industry and to establish a baseline standard required of providers wanting to do business with Medicare.

Isn’t that the reason behind the regulations already in place regarding claims submission, specifically CMN completion? It appears that those behind regulated accreditation want to add another layer of accountability to establish that the HME industry is well monitored. Accreditation is a good thing, and our company has been accredited since 1991. We have found accreditation to be a significant quality tool to ensure that we are living our mission statement: “Serving You Better!” Voluntarily pursuing and maintaining accreditation has helped our company to improve sales and profitability.

It’s time to ask those who regulate our businesses to focus on those who try to defraud Medicare and make the burden easier on those of us who are diligently trying to make a living serving our patients. Recent studies indicate that significant numbers of suppliers have claims submission errors, they say? Let’s respond, keep it simple. Forced accreditation is not the answer.

- Robbie Roberts is the corporate compliance officer at Norco in Boise, Idaho.
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