CMS Gives Go-Ahead to Delivery of Home Oximetry Tests
BALTIMORE--On Friday, CMS notified providers that they can deliver home oximetry tests to Medicare patients to help speed up the process of qualifying beneficiaries for home oxygen therapy.
According to a CMS program transmittal, DME suppliers may deliver overnight pulse oximetry testing units to patients' homes--so patients can self-test--if the tests are ordered by a physician and performed under the direction and/or instruction of a Medicare-approved Independent Diagnostic Testing Facility.
Last year, CMS began allowing home oximetry testing with some devices such as the Power Ox, distributed by The Letco Companies, Decatur, Ala., and Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare Corp.'s Web Ox, but questions about delivery and pick-up of the units, along with patient instruction, remained.
CMS' new transmittal clarifies the policy, stating, "because the DME supplier cannot access the test results, and is acting merely as a courier of equipment, and is not involved in instructing the beneficiary how to perform the test, this does not violate the prohibition." According to the transmittal, the IDTF must provide written instruction to the beneficiary on proper operation of the test equipment, and suppliers "may not create this instruction nor participate in the conduct of the test."
CMS also said it "does not intend to regulate the ownership of either the testing unit or the technology used to transmit test results."
CMS requires that the test unit is sealed and tamper-proof so results cannot be accessed by anyone other than the IDTF; however, providers can download results from the testing unit to transmit to the testing facility. The entire process can be completed in about 24 hours.
"This is perfect. It clarifies that suppliers are able to [deliver home testing devices] to the applicant then transfer the results electronically to a testing facility," said Cara Bachenheimer, vice president of government relations for Invacare.
Providers have complained about long waits for a local IDTF to qualify patients, leading to lost revenues since they are unable to bill Medicare until their patients are qualified.