Will you be grandfathered? Don't count on it, CMS says

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

WASHINGTON - Providers with accreditation already under their belts may not be fully grandfathered by CMS.
That's the latest word from agency officials, based on a teleconference they had with the major accrediting organizations in September. The official details of the call haven't been publicly released, but word has spread that grandfathering was something that the parties discussed during their nearly two-hour call.
CMS officials said, according to industry sources, that the accrediting organizations will have to prove that their providers can meet any differences between the organization's existing standards and the agency's final quality standards.
"We will have to make sure that our accredited providers meet the full letter of the law with the CMS standards," said Sandra Canally, president of The Compliance Team. "Most likely, we'll have to re-issue certifications, although we're not sure about that. CMS is supposed to give us more information."
Providers who have already been accredited by The Compliance Team, for example, will have to prove that they meet financial management standards that, up until now, haven't been required by the organization, Canally said.
"We've never required our companies to show us a budget," she said. "Now, we're going to have to go back."
But accredited providers shouldn't panic, said Tom Cesar, president of ACHC. He believes providers who have already been accredited by ACHC will "meet or exceed" CMS's final standards.
"If it's a policy issue that we haven't required before, my take on it is we can send out a circular asking providers to submit information by a certain date so we can verify to CMS that they comply," he said.
Cesar doubts ACHC will have to make additional on-site visits to make sure accredited providers meet any differences between the organization's and CMS's standards. A provider who asked not to be named hopes Cesar's right.
"I'm $6,000 into it, and I don't know why I didn't wait until the dust had settled (before seeking accreditation)," the source said. "We're a small HME, and if it costs $1,000 for them to come back out here--it adds up."