Screening and Disclosure
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into
law on March 23, 2010. The health reform law has a number of
provisions that directly affect DME suppliers, including screening
and disclosure requirements.
Screening: Section 6401 of the act states that suppliers
enrolling or re-enrolling in Medicare, Medicaid or CHIP will be
subject to screening measures. The Secretary of the Department of
Health and Human Services is required to establish procedures for
screening suppliers, and to determine the level of screening
according to the risk of fraud, waste and abuse with respect to
each category of supplier.
All suppliers will be subject to licensure checks and, if the
Secretary so determines, additional screening measures such as
criminal background checks, fingerprinting, database checks, and
unscheduled and unannounced site visits. An application fee of $500
will be imposed to cover the costs of screening; this fee will be
adjusted for inflation. (A recent CMS notice sets the fee at $505
beginning March 25.)
To paraphrase the words of an OIG attorney, the government is
moving away from “pay and chase” to “guarding the
henhouse.” In the early days of the industry — in the
“pay and chase” days — it was easy for a company
to obtain a Medicare Part B supplier number. The screening process
was rudimentary. A dishonest company could easily obtain a supplier
number, improperly bill Medicare, and then shut down and escape
just ahead of the posse.
Over the past five years, it has become more difficult for a
company to obtain a supplier number. Accreditation and surety bond
requirements by themselves have weeded out many of the dishonest
Section 6401 of PPACA assists the government in achieving its
goal of moving away from “pay and chase” to
“guarding the henhouse.” Now, a company must jump
through multiple hoops before it is awarded a supplier number: It
has to purchase a surety bond; it has to become accredited; and its
principals are subject to a background check (including a criminal
background check and fingerprinting).
DME companies are experiencing unannounced site visits from a
variety of sources, including the NSC, the OIG, the state Medicaid
program, an accrediting organization or a Medicare contractor. If a
DME supplier is conducting a non-compliant, or perhaps a
fraudulent, operation, there is a reasonable chance that the
non-compliance/fraud will be discovered when a person walks
unannounced onto the premises, eyeballs the operation and asks for
evidence that the supplier standards are being followed.
The bottom line is this: In addition to expecting an NSC site
visit when you come up for re-enrollment, you can expect
unannounced site visits on a periodic basis.
Disclosure: Section 6401 of the act further provides that
suppliers enrolling or re-enrolling in Medicare, Medicaid or CHIP
will be subject to new disclosure requirements.
Applicants will be required to disclose current or previous
affiliations, directly or indirectly, with any provider or supplier
that has uncollected debt, been subject to payment suspension under
a federal health care program, has been excluded from participating
in a federal health care program or has had its billing privileges
denied or revoked.
The Secretary may deny enrollment or re-enrollment if such
affiliations pose an undue risk of fraud, waste or abuse.
comments powered by Disqus