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Heartland Conference Ignites Government Discussions with CMS, SBA, and DME MACs

Posted on in HME Government Issues, Heartland 2017

By Collin Brecher, VGM Government Relations

In the past, there has been limited discussion between providers and representatives of the agencies that deal with health care policies. Chalk it up to bad blood or a lack of communication; there has been disconnect between Medicare, providers, and stakeholders.

Over the past six months, however, there has been a welcomed change in tune from the Medicare representatives, and it has opened the opportunity to take positive steps toward sustainable policies.

During Heartland Conference 2017, more than 50 attendees engaged in a constructive conversation with a panel of agency representatives and shared thoughts on the competitive bidding program and other government regulations. The panel was made up of various government agencies and contractors in order to get several perspectives on challenges that providers are facing in the real world.

The panel included Tangita Daramola, CMS Competitive Acquisition ombudsman; Yolanda Swift, deputy national ombudsman for Regulatory Enforcement Fairness of the Small Business Administration; Emily Barnes and Virginia Carraher from DME MAC C2C Innovative Solutions; and Paula Berriche and Dawn Reamer from DME MAC Noridian.

The discussion brought several issues to the forefront, including competitive bidding, audits, and documentation processes. Attendees were particularly interested in explaining the negative impacts to their businesses they’ve seen since the start of competitive bidding.

Another topic of interest was the Formal Telephone Discussion Demonstration program being conducted by C2C in its effort to reduce the backlog of Medicare audits. The program has led to providers getting paid much sooner. Currently, only jurisdictions C and D are under the program; providers are urging Medicare to expand the program to jurisdictions A and B.

Facilitation of face-to-face conversation and direct feedback is just the start of improving a working relationship among Medicare, contractors, and other government agencies. Constructive conversations have not happened in previous years, and VGM is looking forward to continuing to connect these agencies with the grassroots network of independent providers who have to adapt to a flurry of regulations and rules in order to care for their patients.