'There is no more waiting'

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

WASHINGTON - CMS expects providers who plan to participate in the first round of national competitive bidding to become accredited by early spring, the agency told accreditors during a daylong meeting in December.
"The race is on," said Sandra Canally, president of The Compliance Team, one of 11 organizations that CMS approved to accredit providers as part of the program. "There is no more waiting."
CMS plans to kick off competitive bidding in 10 cities in 2007. Depending on where the program takes place and what products are competitively bid, CMS estimates up to 18,000 providers may need to become accredited by early spring, the agency told accreditors.
Also at the meeting, CMS gave the accreditors a list of 19 cities, 10 of which will be chosen to participate in the first round of competitive bidding.
"We know that Miami will be one of them--they made that perfectly clear," said Tim Safley, the HME clinical adviser for ACHC, another approved accreditor. "But we don't know what the others will be."
The remaining 18 cities on the list: Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Riverside, Calif.; Pittsburg; Kansas City, Mo., and Kan.; Cincinnati; San Juan; Cleveland; San Francisco; Atlanta; Houston; Detroit; Seattle; Baltimore; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Boston; and Tampa.
The list includes two cities that were left out of a previously released list of 25 potential cities: Seattle and Phoenix. It doesn't include Orlando, which until now had been considered a shoo-in because of its size and significant Medicare population.
Since some details of the program remain a mystery, providers in any of the 19 cities should sign up to become accredited, as the process takes up to four to six months, sources said.
"I'm telling my clients to jump in," said healthcare consultant Mary Ellen Conway. "Either they'll meet the requirements for 2007 or they'll be ahead of the game in the future. It can't hurt."
In the second round of competitive bidding in 2009, CMS will require accreditation of providers in another 80 cities. All Medicare providers must become accredited eventually.
Other details:
* In January, CMS began hosting teleconferences twice a month with accreditors to address any questions and concerns, and keep tabs on their progress.
* CMS expects accreditors to notify the agency as it accredits providers. "They don't want us to wait for a monthly report," said Maryanne Popovich, executive director of the homecare accreditation program at JCAHO, another approved accreditor.
* CMS directed accreditors to notify providers who are already accredited to meet any gaps between the standards of the agency and the accreditors. "If CMS approves the crosswalk, the provider is granted accreditation up until whenever its accreditation expires," Safley said.