CLEVELAND, OH – Judy Bunn is no stranger to the fine print. As compliance manager for Ohio-based Medical Service Company, she tracks the minutia for more than a dozen locations, helping to keep the regional provider in accordance with government guidelines.
It’s a challenging job, but Bunn takes on even more as chairperson for the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) Regulatory Council. “It’s rewarding when the information I gather can bring knowledge to the company, and help my company be compliant and receive payment for services that we provide,” says Bunn. “And when we are audited on it, we get paid on those audits.”
And about those audits; Bunn describes the current climate as “overly aggressive.” Things are a little better these days, but not much. “Things have slowed down a little bit, and I do mean a little bit,” she muses. “I think that relief is still a little ways away.”
Bunn points out that for the first time, AAHomecare has taken the time to develop the Audit Key to help track audits. “We can complain until the sky falls, and we can give anecdotal evidence, but we now have the ability through the Audit Key to provide solid numbers that speak to the burden of our over-audited state.
“Lobbying efforts have occurred on the Hill, but we have never had headway or made progress inside the halls of CMS, but with Kim Brummett, Tom Ryan, and the gang there we now have that,” continues Bunn. “Not only is Kim very recognizable in the halls of CMS, she takes us along as well. Now they [CMS officials] are requesting meetings with us to get our input, not that they necessarily listen, but they at least understand that there are other opinions and things to be considered. They seek input from us.”
In meetings with the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Bunn has had the opportunity to meet and comment on implementation of the new RAC auditor for DME and says, “We feel that they listened somewhat to what we said. While no one wants more audits, at least the new RAC auditors have more stringent controls on them and responsibility for accuracy in their audits.”
Medical Service Company is headed up by Joel Marx, past chairman of AAHomecare, so it’s no surprise that the company is an avid member of that organization. “It’s difficult to be optimistic with everything that has transpired over the last few years,” says Bunn. “But if we have an opportunity to change the program [competitive bidding] for the better, this is probably our best opportunity in recent years.”