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Many DME providers have had tremendous hurdles to overcome this year, from the implementation of a new round of Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program through continued impacts of COVID-19. Mergers and acquisitions are through the roof as a result, as are continued compliance concerns that plague the industry.
Let’s dive into some of the major DME related matters & issues that have come across my desk this year, and what to be on the lookout for in the next.
Competitive Bidding Impacts
After much uncertainty about what DME products would actually be included upon its implementation, Round 2021 of Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program (“CBP”) kicked off at the beginning of this year.
With off-the-shelf knee and lumbar braces (HCPCS Code OR03) included in Round 2021 of the CBP – and thus ability to supply such devices to beneficiaries in competitive bid areas restricted to bid-winners – non bid-winning DME providers have been scrambling to find new revenue streams to fill the void. Unfortunately, many are doing so in a non-compliant manner. read more
With off-the-shelf knee and lumbar orthotics (HCPCS Code OR03) included in Medicare’s Round 2021 of Competitive Bidding (and thus ability to supply such devices to beneficiaries living in competitive bid areas limited to bid-winners), non bid-winning DMEPOS providers have been scrambling to find new revenue streams for their business models.
Many such providers are looking to continue providing orthotics – such as prefabricated (HCPCS Code OR02) or custom fabricated (HCPCS Code OR01) braces.
Unfortunately, a misunderstanding that could jeopardize Medicare billing privileges seems to be spreading. It pertains to DMEPOS provider personnel/fitter requirements to enable billing for such prefabricated or custom fabricated orthotics; allow me an opportunity to clear the air. read more
Almost two years after “Operation Brace Yourself” regarding purported telemedicine and orthotic bracing fraud made national headlines, on February 4, 2021 the Department of Justice Announced that a major player in that fraud – Florida businesswoman Kelly Wolfe – recently pled guilty to criminal health care and tax fraud charges.
Operation Brace Yourself was a 2019 crackdown on the illegal use of telemarketing and telemedicine to generate fraudulent claims for DME orders, whose reach spanned continents and ultimate implications defrauded taxpayers out of billions of dollars.
According to the Department of Justice Press Release and Settlement Agreement, Mr. Wolfe was seemingly a significant mastermind in establishing hundreds of DME companies that went on to defraud US taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries.
Here are some highlights of the recently signed Settlement Agreement between the United States DOJ, Kelly Wolfe and her company Regency, Inc. read more
This individual spearheaded a scheme involving kickbacks to marketers and prescribers to defraud TRICARE and other healthcare programs by submitting claims for unnecessary compounded medications, which also involved routine waiver of patient financial responsibility. read more
Medicare’s DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Round 2021 is now in full effect as of January 1, 2021. (See previous articles about what CBID Round 2021 is all about).
DME providers either participated in the process with hopes of being awarded a bid, or they abstained from doing so. Of those who participated, with Medicare’s recent bid winner announcements, bid winners were happy and bid losers, well not so much – as only those providers awarded a contract could service a Medicare Part B beneficiary for competitively bid product(s) for patients residing in competitive bid areas (“CBA”).
Now what? What are the options for the relationships between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in moving forward, if any? Let’s briefly discuss subcontracting. read more
Becoming a DMEPOS provider enrolled with Medicare is no small feat or undertaking. Whether you’ve started the business from ‘scratch’ or purchased an existing entity, you need to ensure that investment is protected through active and ongoing compliance measures.
To that end, I recently hosted a webinar with Matthew Gruskin, Credentialing Director at Board of Certification (“BOC”) to discuss some of the steps necessary to do so. A copy of our presentation is available here.
Becoming “accredited” is a necessary precursor to being a Medicare Part B DMEPOS provider, and BOC is one of only nine Medicare approved DMEPOS accreditation organizations. Whether it’s through BOC or one of the other eight Medicare approved accreditation organizations, a DMEPOS business’s initial receipt of accreditation is really just a ‘first step’, insofar as if that accreditation is not maintained a DMEPOS supplier will lose their Medicare Part B billing privileges. Medicare’s DMEPOS Supplier Standard #22 specifically requires all enrolled providers to be accredited to receive and retain billing privileges.
A DMEPOS supplier must continue to abide by both Medicare’s DMEPOS Supplier Standards (which the National Supplier Clearinghouse is tasked with enforcing) and its Quality Standards (which accreditation organizations gauge compliance by) in order to stay in its good graces. Accreditation organizations conduct unannounced on-site surveys at least every three years and suppliers must also revalidate their enrollment with Medicare’s National Supplier Clearinghouse every three years, which results in an unannounced Medicare on-site visit. read more
Round 2021 of Medicare’s DMEPOS Competitive Bidding (“CBID”) Program has been a doozy to say the least!
From the complexities of the new bidding process announced in 2019 that I initially wrote here and on this article through the uncertainty regarding whether Round 2021 would ultimately be implemented given the COVID-19 pandemic, the Round 2021 CBID Program that goes into effect on January 1, 2021 is shaping up to be much different than originally anticipated. Allow me to breakdown the changes between ‘then’ and ‘now’:
Video on Round 2021 of Medicare’s DMEPOS Competitive Bidding (“CBID”) Program.
On January 31, 2020 the US Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) declared a public health emergency surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which was renewed again for a period of 90 days effective July 25, 2020.
In an attempt to focus on patients over paperwork and to remove obstacles from access to patient care, HHS relaxed or suspended certain healthcare provider requirements. Several such changes directly impact current or prospective providers of durable medical equipment (“DME”) to Medicare Part B beneficiaries.
Here’s a high-level breakdown of some of those changes: read more
Did you know? With the passage and recent implementation of Florida’s Senate Bill 1742 there is a new exemption in place for the otherwise required Home Medical Equipment (“HME”) license for providing TENS units to patients.
More specifically, as of July 1, 2020 MDs, DOs and DCs are now exempt from that HME licensure requirement so long as such licensed healthcare practitioners are engaged in the sale or rent of such electro stimulation equipment to their patients in the course of their practice. read more
Attorney Mike Silverman of the Florida Healthcare Law Firm will be co-hosting with Board of Certification Credentialing Director Matt Gruskin for a special presentation exclusively focused on the the topic of adding durable medical equipment (DME) to a chiropractic office. As attendees may know, adding DME is a great way to impact a supplier’s revenue, but most importantly is a fantastic mechanism to provide more complete patient care and satisfaction.
During this “lunch n’ learn” Mike & Matt will break down the steps necessary for a chiropractic office to provide DME to its customers, be it cash paying, commercially insured, or Medicare patients alike.