Suppliers: New requirements increase paperwork burden

Sunday, June 30, 2002

WASHINGTON - A recent program memo from CMS outlining requirements for diabetic testing supplies could send providers on a wild goose chase or, at the very least, increase their paperwork burden, according to industry sources.

The majority of the requirements, which go into effect Oct. 1, appear to be status quo, but one requirement is turning heads. It asks providers to be prepared to collect notes, prescriptions and medical charts from physicians in addition to the CMNs or data collection forms they already submit for diabetic clients.

Ward Cook said the request for prescriptions is legitimate, but the request for notes and medical charts is not. Cook, president and CEO of Allegro Medical Billing in Tampa, Fla., said few physicians take notes or update medical charts for diabetics because treatment of the disease is so "blatantly obvious."

"You ask them to test their blood, and you ask them to wear certain shoes," he said. "Why take notes or update records? They're asking for something that's ephemeral, a gossamer, a shadow."

Cook passes off the requirement as just another way CMS is trying to recapture its money from providers.

Mark Gielniak didn't go so far as to say the additional documentation wouldn't be available, but he did say it'd be difficult to get. Gielniak, v.p. of Diabetes Plus in Warren, Mich., said he always tries to have prescriptions on hand, even though it's not always easy getting them, but he doesn't typically get notes or medical charts.

"To tell me I have to go to a doctor's office and say, 'Oh, by the way, I need copies of your notes and charts every time you see my client,'is ridiculous," he said. "The doctor's office won't comply with that request."

Yet Richard Sutherland downplayed the burden of collecting the additional documentation.

"It's going to take time to get it from them, but they'll be forthcoming," said Sutherland, president of North Texas DME in McKinney, Texas.

Sutherland said he can even see why CMS would request providers be prepared to submit the additional documentation. It's typical for other HME like power wheelchairs, he said.

But providers have less of an incentive to go to these lengths for testing supplies, industry sources, including Sutherland, say. Their profit margins are notoriously low. HME