Cookies, Beatles, audits


The Omni Shoreham has hosted Frank Sinatra, U.S. presidents and other heads of state and, in 1964, The Beatles.

This year, it's HME providers with a lengthy to-do list.

In years past the focus has been on competitive bidding, but this year, while that's still on the menu, audits are in the spotlight. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., has promised to sponsor audit legislation and providers here are tasked with asking their own reps to be an original co-sponsor.

I think lawmakers will be primed to hear that message. Kim Brandt told attendees that important reports on audits from the Senate Finance Committee and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) are the works, as is a possible hearing on the issue after July 4. AAHomecare is working on it, too. Officials have a meeting scheduled with Chief ALJ Nancy Griswold in June to discuss the two-year delay at the third level of appeals.

AAHomecare cookie tin

The first speaker today was none other than CMS's Laurence Wilson. The session was closed to the press (there's that CMS transparency again), but since it was held over the chicken and asparagus lunch, I was allowed in so long as I kept my reporter's notebook in my pocket and didn't live tweet. Still, I don't think I'll get anyone in trouble when I say that Wilson recounted a meeting with AAHomecare's Tom Ryan, saying that it had been awhile since he'd been visited by the association, which always brought him cookies.

As Ryan said, and others, too, providers and CMS ultimately have the same goal: to help the patient. The problem is that the agency goes at it at in different ways. Ryan told me he's determined to open dialogue with Wilson's office and, while Wilson's speech didn't break new ground, attendees were optimistic there is some sort of detente in the future.

Finally, there is renewed focus on the patient and how they are impacted by everything.

"The focus has been on the billing, on the rules, on the costs, the procedures, the audits," Dr. Elizabeth Vliet told attendees. "Bring the focus back to patient care. The patient is the ony person I have ever answered to."

Theresa Flaherty