Nurse practitioners throughout Mississippi recently received letters from the Mississippi Division of Medicaid stating that they are no longer able to prescribe durable medical equipment (DME) due to a change in the CMS regulations for DME under hospice regulations. This was a shock to many, and it prompted many meetings throughout the state to figure out the “whats” and “why” behind this.
As we have investigated and been part of the discussions around this, we have learned much. Here is a brief summary.
The origin of this language appears to stem back to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2008. Language from the ACA changed CMS guidelines to require that only physicians are eligible to order DME – a change from what was previously allowed. At that time, Mississippi had just recently submitted and received approval for our new Medicaid technical language.
This language had stayed in effect until this year, 2018, where Mississippi Medicaid filed its new State Plan Amendment (SPA) 17-0001 in response to the passage of the 2018 Medicaid technical bill. This new language this year was approved by CMS with one caveat, that the DME portion of home health is changed to meet their standing guidelines as stated by the ACA in accordance with 42 CFR 440.70.
Representatives from the Mississippi Division of Medicaid had lengthy conversations with CMS to determine the cause of this change, and to fight for the state’s providers. It turns out that CMS actually asked Mississippi Medicaid to not only enforce the new policy effective immediately, but to actually back-bill providers for a period of time for improperly ordering DME, despite the fact that it was done according to Mississippi-approved policies. Mississippi Medicaid fought hard for Mississippi providers, and it prompted CMS to compromise on not requiring the retroactive refunded payments, but rather kicked out the effective date to September 1, 2018. At and after this date, only physicians will be eligible to order DME.
As I mentioned, there have been numerous conversations around this and many considerations of how to fix it. We are likely looking at a short-term fix and a long-term fix, but more investigate is underway with other states that have already dealt with the issue and found resolution. In order to not disrupt the work that is being done, I will hold back from detailing the solutions that are being discussed at this time. I can say that the goal, though, is to find a way that is legal and medically compliant to allow NPs to continue to order DME.
We are monitoring the situation closely and have a “seat at the table” with discussions.
Hopefully there will be headway soon before this takes full effect on September 1, 2018 so that we do not hamper the good work that is being done to treat patients in Mississippi that have a need for basic DME.
Please contact Ryan Kelly at 601.898.3001 for questions or additional information.