Both Sides and Why Providers Should Protest
I’m an industry consultant, and we have helped hundreds of DMEs through the accreditation process. We know what we are doing and all of our clients pass, and we also don’t gouge people. We didn’t raise our prices when accreditation became mandatory. We have worked with every accredting body on CMS approved list.
I’m not going to use my name here, because I don’t want anyone mad at me. But here is the real deal as I see it, from both sides — the DME provider side, and the CMS side.
1. The industry as a whole has known this requirement was coming for 3 years. It was well publicized. If a DME company did NOT apply to their chosen accrediting body prior to Jan 31, 2008, they probably don’t have much of any excuse for not getting accredited in time. HOWEVER….
2. Their have been plenty of problems with the accrediting bodies themselves. Here are just a few I have seen first hand among my clients:
A. Document submission procceses overseen by truly unqualified individuals who have no idea what they are looking at or looking for. Impossible to believe some of these folks have ever worked in the DME industry.
B. Document submission requirements that are so cumbersome you could have applied by Jan 31st, as suggested, and still not complete the document process by the AO’s deadline in order to be surveyed on time.
C. Very poor customer service with some of the newer AOs that were entirely unprepared for the number of applicants they received. Not acknowledging receipt of application, not sending a decision letter even months after the survey occured. Giving provisional accreditation and never following up with information about steps to be taken for full accreditation (this has happened over and over again).
D. Frankly, some of the surveyors are just very poor. I suppose that is to be expected, but at one point we had to proactively tell our clients not to get upset at some of the outrageous things they were told during their on-site survey, because the AOs board would not let those things into the final report. And they didn’t, but they some of the less than experienced surveyors sure got a lot of folks worked up for no reason.
3. ABCOPP, a CMS approved accrediting body has been accrediting those they could not get to in time without a site visit. Naturally, this is completely unfair to folks waiting for the required survey with other AOs. What I am hearing is that CMS is claiming this is okay because ABCOPP’s document submission process is so rigourous. To that I say an unqualified “BALONEY!” It is no different than any of the other approved accrediting bodies document submission processes. And we work with all of them, so again, baloney. ABCOPP must have a friend at CMS.
So those of you still waiting for a site survey from one of the other AOs should be raising holy hell with CMS / NSC. Ask them if you can just switch to ABCOPP and get the special deal their providers got — “grandfathered in” without having to get a survey. Maybe ABCOPP can take 29K applications this week from all the unaccredited providers so those providers can stay in business.
This list could go on and on, but the bottom line is that CMS has done a very, very poor job of holding the AOs accountable for having a standard process, and has not provided even a mimimum of oversight of the AOs.
One other thing I should mention — the experienced accrediting bodies (ACHC, CHAP, and Joint Commission) did a good job during this process. Their surveyors are well trained, with few exceptions, very professional, and they did get their surveys done on time for folks that applied by the suggested deadline. We have not seen more than a trickle of problems with our clients that choose the experienced AOs. Just a heads up for next time.
(CRE Editorial Note: Anonymous posts are welcome; we leave each writer with the choice to do so or not. CRE is a regulatory watchdog which has no financial relationship with any federal agency; consequently there is no need for any of it’s work to be annoymous–others might not enjoy such a luxury).