CMS hands out supplier numbers 'like crack cocaine on the street corner'


I got a salty phone call this afternoon, full of expletives (lots of F-bombs, which I’ll denote as #@%&) and disbelief/anger over how inept Medicare is at controlling fraud and abuse.

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Here’s the deal. This guy, lets call him Lester, has applied for a Medicare supplier number and is nearly finished with accreditation. Last week, he received a letter from CMS, saying the agency is “happy to welcome me as someone who can bill whatever I want to Medicare. Here’s your supplier number.”

There’s only one problem. CMS is not supposed to issue a supplier number to a new HME unless he is already accredited. That rule took effect March 1, 2008.

Lester called CMS to find out “what’s the #@%& deal.”

“We don’t have our accreditation yet, and there doesn’t seem to be any contingencies here,” he told a CMS official.

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CMS official: “Don’t worry you’ve got a grace period."

Lester: “What's the grace period?”

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CMS official: “I don’t know. I’m not sure.”

What the #@%&, Lester said after hanging up.

“The last thing I want to do is take this #@%& Medicare number and start #@%& using it and get clipped and put in a box for a year," he told me this afternoon. "Here they are handing them out like #@%& crack cocaine on the street corner. How stupid is that? It never fails. It’s amazing to me. They make us look like the bad guys while they are handing out supplier numbers to anybody. It’s #@%& unbelievable.”

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I couldn't say it any better.

Mike Moran