Editor's Note

The Little Date Stamp That Couldn't

Date StampWhen I was a little girl, my sister and I sometimes played “librarian.” We had a rubber date stamp, purchased by our mom at a grocery store, and we’d turn its little dials, rub the stamp on the inkpad, and stamp “due dates” onto 3x5" cards that we’d tuck into our books.

Not being a librarian, I hadn’t thought of date stamps in quite awhile…until the topic popped up in a Mobility Management Webinar I was hosting.

Jim Stephenson, Invacare Corp.’s rehab reimbursement manager, was our guest speaker, and an attendee said her company had recently gotten a Medicare claim denied because the reviewer objected to the date stamp. Not the date of the stamp, mind you. Not the day, month and year. The actual stamper itself. The attendee asked Jim for insight on what seemed to be a new development.

Jim’s answer: Yes, he’d heard of claims rejected apparently because of the actual datestamping device. He and his colleagues are seeking clarification on what sorts of date stamps are permissible. Offline, I asked Jim what sort of additional date-stamp functionality Medicare might suddenly be seeking, but not explicitly explaining. Jim basically said the industry isn’t currently sure what Medicare’s precise objection is.

It made me wonder: Is there a new cutting-edge date stamp on the market? Does it automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time? If it’s packed into a suitcase and crosses a time zone, do its little dials automatically whirl to adjust? The date stamp my sister and I played with was a manual model, powered by our little hands. Are today’s date stamps powered by, I don’t know, nuclear fission or something? Are there date-stamp tradeshows I should be covering?!?

I’m no expert, but I intuitively doubt there’s a whole new type of date stamper on the market (and my Google search yielded nothing). Given the auditing track record of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, it’s far more likely that this is another instance of claims being denied for a new, unexplained reason. While the date-stamp explanation is more bewildering than some others, it’s by no means the only frustration for providers who are working hard to comply with rules that Medicare and its contractors fail to make clear.

That’s a real shame given all the positives we could be focusing on in this industry. For instance, look at the Electronics Marketplace (page 26). Check out new controls that make it possible for consumers with very little functional movement or strength to independently drive and operate their power chairs. See the new systems that also keep consumers connected to their environments — that make it possible to them to use those other electronics, such as smart phones, tablets and computers.

We also have event coverage of the Numotion national meeting and expo, and of the International Seating Symposium (MMBeat, starting on page 8). You’ll see more products and technology designed to meet consumers where they are. The creativity, determination and resourcefulness of assistive technology engineers are humbling and awesome.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could cut through the red tape to ensure consumers have access to this technology? Medicare’s policy of paying auditors when they reject claims has given reviewers incentive to keep looking for a reason, any reason, to deny payment. It’s also created rules that are arbitrary, moving targets. (Hint to CMS: If you don’t or can’t explain what you want, you make it harder for providers to meet your requirements.) Surely, we can put our energy toward something more meaningful than a date-stamp debate.

And if you do hear of a nuclear-powered date stamp that cross-references Greenwich Mean Time and makes lattes, you know where to find me.

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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