Nov. 8 Open Door: Accreditation, NCB Info Is on Its Way, But Not Available Yet

The latest Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Open Door Forum for DME contained some new information, but when it comes to accreditation and national competitive bidding, suppliers still find themselves in a hurry-up-and-wait situation.

The Nov. 8 forum, attended by 379 conference callers, kicked off with CMS announcements on various DMEPOS topics. Among the first was a reminder that National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers for standard transactions must be implemented no later than May 23, 2007.

On the accreditation front, CMS' Sandra Bastinelli announced that the list of organizations that will be approved to accredit DME suppliers will be released shortly, adding, "We're not going to be able to give any information today on those competitive bidding areas (the first 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas [MSAs] chosen to kick off the competitive bidding program), as that final rule is separate and distinct from the final rule that was published in August, and we have no idea when the final rule is going to be released. But it will be released soon." Bastinelli said the names and contact information for the organizations chosen to accredit suppliers will eventually be posted at A HREF="" TARGET="_blank"> and encouraged suppliers to check the site often to look for new information.

Bastinelli noted that the Web site will include information on what each accrediting organization "is approved or deemed to accredit, meaning that just because they are approved to accredit you, they are not approved to accredit you for every single thing ? meaning not everyone is going to be approved to accredit you for every supply or every orthotic or prosthetic."

While Bastinelli said she was unable to pinpoint when the information would be announced, she added, "I'm hoping by this same time next Wednesday (Nov. 15), we will have that released to you."

A caller later asked when the 10 MSAs would be named by CMS, to which the CMS response was "as soon as possible."

"I know," said the caller, to the sounds of background laughter. "We've been hearing that. It has to be before the end of the year, correct? Or does it? It really doesn't give us a lot of time to plan if we're a geographic location that's going to be affected by competitive bidding. We have no list, nothing to work for a budget, on and on. Do you have any timeframe at all that we can possibly count on?"

"In doing the impact analysis, we were assuming a start date for competitive bidding of October 2007," an unidentified CMS staffer replied. "The actual implementation of the payments are a ways off. The bidding process will obviously start sometime in 2007. Depending on the publication of the final rule, that will really affect the start of the program. Since we can't predict exactly when the final rule will be published, we can't give specific information at this time about when everything else will start."

Asked when suppliers will need to be accredited if they do not intend to participate in competitive bidding, Sandra Bastinelli said, "We have not set that date yet. We want to roll out competitive bidding (first), because that is the statute."

To hear a recording of the Nov. 8 Open Door Forum, dial (800) 642-1687 and use conference ID number 7361251. The recording will be available through Nov. 13. The next Open Door Forum is scheduled for Wed., Dec. 20, 2006.

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