Published 10/1/2008
Robert Jasak, JD; Lindsay Law

CMS exempts physicians from DMEPOS accreditation process

During an Open Door Forum call on Sept. 3, 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that physicians and licensed healthcare professionals will be exempt from the accreditation process required of suppliers of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS).

The announcement was the result of months of negotiations by the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), other physician and licensed healthcare professional organizations, and CMS.

“The AAOS is pleased that CMS recognizes the need of physicians to address a patient’s condition and DMEPOS needs during the patient visit,” said AAOS President Tony Rankin, MD.

“We also applaud our friends in Congress for including the DMEPOS provisions in the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), and helping to ensure that patients have access to the quality care that they need from their physicians.”

The MIPPA provisions adjusted CMS’s authority regarding existing DMEPOS accreditation requirements. Quality standards not specifically designed for physicians could not be applied to physicians and CMS’s authority to exempt physicians from the accreditation process was made explicit.

In a July 24, 2008, letter to CMS, the AAOS and other organizations assured CMS that accreditation of physicians and licensed healthcare professionals was not necessary, given that these health professionals furnish the full range of Medicare-covered services and items pursuant to State law and licensure requirements and meet additional regulatory requirements to enroll as Medicare Part B providers. The signatories to the letter included the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Medical Association, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Optometric Association, the American Podiatric Medical Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the Medical Group Management Association.

Congressional testimony
Recently, AAOS medical director, Robert H. Haralson III, MD, MBA, testified before the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Rural and Urban Entrepreneurship. Committee chair Nydia Velázquez, subcommittee chair Heath Schuler, and ranking member Jeff Fortenberry echoed Dr. Haralson’s concerns about the program and agreed that applying rules meant for DMEPOS suppliers to physicians could have unintended results and a negative impact on patient access to care.

The AAOS office of government relations has also been working with CMS on the program, meeting with key CMS officials and submitting letters and comments on the federal rulemaking, to ensure that the program’s burdens do not interfere with a patient’s ability to access necessary DMEPOS items in a safe, timely, and efficient environment in consultation with her or his physician.

View the CMS fact sheet on DMEPOS accreditation.

Robert Jasak, JD, is the senior regulatory representative and Lindsay Law is the communications manager in the AAOS office of government relations.