Recent changes to CMS rules require suppliers of certain durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) to earn accreditation if they participate in Medicare Part B. The rule changes are designed to reduce costs of the Medicare program, while ensuring Medicare beneficiary access to high quality medical equipment and supplies.

How do the rule changes affect physical and occupational therapists and related professionals that supply DMEPOS? All DMEPOS suppliers that participate in Medicare Part B must be accredited by a CMS-approved organization by September 30, 2009. If not accredited by that date, CMS will revoke a suppliers National Supplier Clearinghouse (NSC) number and its Medicare billing privileges. Early preparation is essential for success in the accreditation process, advises Beth Kolbe, PT. Before an on-site survey occurs, a supplier must be confident of its conformance to DMEPOS standards.

Kolbe counsels DMEPOS suppliers from her CARF International office in Tucson, answering their questions about accreditation, survey processes, and standards interpretation. CARF is approved by CMS as a national deeming authority for suppliers of most DMEPOS. Kolbe recommends suppliers allow a minimum of 4 to 6 months to prepare for an on-site survey that can lead to an accreditation award. Organizational practices must be reviewed, documented, and sometimes realigned to meet all applicable DMEPOS standards, Kolbe says.

CARF offers individualized consultation at no charge to suppliers as they prepare for a survey. The consultation is available through e-mail, [email protected], or by telephone toll free (888) 281-6531, ext 154. In addition, CARF provides survey preparation questions to help suppliers identify the practices that must be in place to demonstrate conformance to each DMEPOS standard. A self-evaluation form, submitted to CARF before the on-site survey, is one of many documents meant to aid a suppliers survey preparation. CARF also provides numerous sample forms, grids, and checklists in a free supplement to the standards manual.

Its never too early to start the accreditation process, Kolbe says. Were here to help guide suppliers as they prepare for a survey. However, Kolbe cautions, Since the on-site survey is unannounced, CMS does not permit accrediting bodies to provide consultation after a supplier has submitted its application for accreditation. So its best to ask for guidance early on.

More information about DMEPOS accreditation can be found at