Round 2 accreditation deadline: 'Providers are freaking out a little bit'

Sunday, March 23, 2008

BALTIMORE - CMS's new accreditation deadlines for providers who plan to participate in round two of national competitive bidding should serve as a "wake-up call," accrediting organizations say.

CMS announced March 14 that providers in 70 competitive bidding areas (CBAs) must be accredited or apply to become accredited by May 14. They must complete the process by Oct. 31.

"Can it be done? Absolutely," said Tim Safley, HME clinical adviser for ACHC. "Providers shouldn't panic, but CMS is sending a clear message: They're taking this very seriously, and they want to make sure providers are, too."

Providers who participated in round one of NCB had to be accredited by Oct. 31, 2007. Providers nationwide must be accredited by Sept. 30, 2009 to continue doing business with Medicare.

To demonstrate how little time providers in the 70 CBAs have to become accredited, HQAA posted this scenario on its Web site: complete application by March 17 (at HQAA, this doesn't necessarily mean that the provider is prepared for a survey); complete documentation requirements by May 1; complete an unannounced survey in May, June or July; and receive accreditation in August.

For ACHC: complete application by May 14; complete preliminary evidence report (PER) by May 30; and complete a survey by Sept. 19 to receive accreditation by Oct. 31.

"It's an extremely tight deadline, and providers are freaking out a little bit," said Mary Nicholas, HQAA's executive director. "I understand people put things off, but now those people are going to have to work 120 hours a week instead of 80 hours a week."

Some accrediting organizations have tweaked their processes to take some of the pressure off of providers. At ACHC, for example, providers may forego completing a PER, but only if they don't mind waiving their right to a pre-survey review, Safley said.