(a) Scope and purpose. This part implements section 1834(a)(20)(B) of the Act, which requires the Secretary to designate and approve one or more independent accreditation organizations for purposes of enforcing the DMEPOS quality standards for suppliers of DMEPOS and other items or services. Section 1847(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Act requires a DMEPOS supplier to meet the DMEPOS quality standards under section 1834(a)(20) of the Act before being awarded a contract.
(b) Application and reapplication procedures for accreditation organizations.
(1) An independent accreditation organization applying for approval or re-approval of authority to survey suppliers for compliance with the DMEPOS quality standards is required to furnish the following to CMS:
(i) A list of the types of DMEPOS supplies, and a list of products and services for which the organization is requesting approval.
(ii) A detailed comparison of the organization's accreditation requirements and standards with the applicable DMEPOS quality standards, such as a crosswalk.
(iii) A detailed description of the organization's operational processes, including procedures for performing unannounced surveys, frequency of the surveys performed, copies of the organization's survey forms, guidelines and instructions to surveyors, quality review processes for deficiencies identified with accreditation requirements, and dispute resolution processes and policies when there is a negative survey finding or decision.
(iv) Procedures used to notify DMEPOS suppliers of compliance or noncompliance with the accreditation requirements.
(v) Procedures used to monitor the correction of deficiencies found during an accreditation survey.
(vi) Procedures for coordinating surveys with another accrediting organization if the organization does not accredit all products the supplier provides.
(vii) Detailed professional information about the individuals who perform surveys for the accreditation organization, including the size and composition of accreditation survey teams for each type of DMEPOS supplier accredited, and the education and experience requirements surveyors must meet. The information must include the following:
(A) The content and frequency of the continuing education training provided to survey personnel.
(B) The evaluation systems used to monitor the performance of individual surveyors and survey teams.
(C) Policies and procedures for a surveyor or institutional affiliate of the independent accrediting organization that participates in a survey or accreditation decision regarding a DMEPOS supplier with which that individual or institution is professionally or financially affiliated.
(viii) A description of the organization's data management, analysis and reporting system for its surveys and accreditation decisions, including the kinds of reports, tables, and other displays generated by that system.
(ix) Procedures for responding to, and investigating complaints against, accredited facilities, including policies and procedures regarding coordination of these activities with appropriate licensing bodies, ombudsman programs, the National Supplier Clearinghouse, and CMS.
(x) The organization's policies and procedures for notifying CMS of facilities that fail to meet the accreditation organization's requirements.
(xi) A description of all types, categories, and durations of accreditations offered by the organization.
(xii) A list of the following:
(A) All currently accredited DMEPOS suppliers.
(B) The types and categories of accreditation currently held by each supplier.
(C) The expiration date of each supplier's current accreditation.
(D) The upcoming survey cycles for all DMEPOS suppliers' accreditation surveys scheduled to be performed by the organization.
(xiii) A written presentation that demonstrates the organization's ability to furnish CMS with electronic data in ASCII comparable code.
(xiv) A resource analysis that demonstrates that the organization's staffing, funding, and other resources are adequate to perform fully the required surveys and related activities.
(xv) An agreement that the accreditation organization will permit its surveyors to serve as witnesses if CMS takes an adverse action based on accreditation findings.
(2) Validation survey. CMS surveys suppliers of DMEPOS and other items and services accredited under this section on a representative sample basis, or in response to substantial allegations of noncompliance, in order to validate the accreditation organization's survey process. When conducted -
(i) On a representative sample basis, the CMS survey may be comprehensive or focus on a specific standard;
(ii) In response to a substantial allegation, CMS surveys for any standard that CMS determines is related to the allegations.
(3) Discovery of a deficiency. If CMS discovers that a DMEPOS supplier was not in compliance with the DMEPOS supplier quality standards, CMS may revoke the supplier's billing number or require the accreditation organization to perform a subsequent full accreditation survey at the accreditation organization's expense.
(4) Authorization. A supplier selected for a validation survey must authorize the -
(i) Validation survey to take place; and
(ii) CMS survey team to monitor the correction of any deficiencies found through the validation survey.
(5) Refusal to cooperate with survey. If a supplier selected for a validation survey fails to comply with the requirements specified at paragraph (b)(4) of this section, it is deemed to no longer meet the DMEPOS supplier quality standards and may have its supplier billing number revoked.
(6) Validation survey findings. If a validation survey results in a finding that the supplier was not in compliance with one or more DMEPOS supplier quality standards, the supplier no longer meets the DMEPOS quality standards and may have its supplier billing number revoked.
(c) Ongoing responsibilities of a CMS-approved accreditation organization. An accreditation organization approved by CMS must undertake the following activities on an ongoing basis:
(1) Provide to CMS all of the following in written format (either electronic or hard copy) and on a monthly basis all of the following:
(i) Copies of all accreditation surveys, together with any survey-related information that CMS may require (including corrective action plans and summaries of findings with respect to unmet CMS requirements).
(ii) Notice of all accreditation decisions.
(iii) Notice of all complaints related to suppliers of DMEPOS and other items and services.
(iv) Information about any supplier of DMEPOS and other items and services against which the CMS-approved accreditation organization has taken remedial or adverse action, including revocation, withdrawal, or revision of the supplier's accreditation.
(v) Notice of any proposed changes in its accreditation standards or requirements or survey process. If the organization implements the changes before or without CMS' approval, CMS may withdraw its approval of the accreditation organization.
(2) Within 30 calendar days of a change in CMS requirements, submit to CMS:
(i) An acknowledgment of CMS's notification of the change.
(ii) A revised cross walk reflecting the new requirements.
(iii) An explanation of how the accreditation organization plans to alter its standards to conform to CMS's new requirements, within the timeframes specified in the notification of change it receives from CMS.
(3) Permit its surveyors to serve as witnesses if CMS takes an adverse action based on accreditation findings.
(4) Within 2 calendar days of identifying a deficiency of an accredited DMEPOS supplier that poses immediate jeopardy to a beneficiary or to the general public, provide CMS with written notice of the deficiency and any adverse action implemented by the accreditation organization.
(5) Within 10 calendar days after CMS's notice to a CMS-approved accreditation organization that CMS intends to withdraw approval of the accreditation organization, provide written notice of the withdrawal to all of the CMS-approved accreditation organization's accredited suppliers.
(6) Provide, on an annual basis, summary data specified by CMS that relate to the past year's accreditation activities and trends.
(d) Continuing Federal oversight of approved accreditation organizations. This paragraph establishes specific criteria and procedures for continuing oversight and for withdrawing approval of a CMS-approved accreditation organization.
(1) Equivalency review. CMS compares the accreditation organization's standards and its application and enforcement of those standards to the comparable CMS requirements and processes when -
(i) CMS imposes new requirements or changes its survey process;
(ii) An accreditation organization proposes to adopt new standards or changes in its survey process; or
(iii) The term of an accreditation organization's approval expires.
(2) Validation survey. CMS or its designated survey team may conduct a survey of an accredited DMEPOS supplier, examine the results of a CMS-approved accreditation organization's survey of a supplier, or observe a CMS-approved accreditation organization's onsite survey of a DMEPOS supplier, in order to validate the CMS-approved accreditation organization's accreditation process. At the conclusion of the review, CMS identifies any accreditation programs for which validation survey results indicate -
(i) A 10 percent rate of disparity between findings by the accreditation organization and findings by CMS or its designated survey team on standards that do not constitute immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety if unmet;
(ii) Any disparity between findings by the accreditation organization and findings by CMS on standards that constitute immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety if unmet; or
(iii) That, irrespective of the rate of disparity, there are widespread or systemic problems in an organization's accreditation process such that accreditation by that accreditation organization no longer provides CMS with adequate assurance that suppliers meet or exceed the Medicare requirements.
(3) Notice of intent to withdraw approval. CMS provides the organization written notice of its intent to withdraw approval if an equivalency review, validation review, onsite observation, or CMS's daily experience with the accreditation organization suggests that the accreditation organization is not meeting the requirements of this section.
(4) Withdrawal of approval. CMS may withdraw its approval of an accreditation organization at any time if CMS determines that -
(i) Accreditation by the organization no longer adequately assures that the suppliers of DMEPOS and other items and services are meeting the DMEPOS quality standards, and that failure to meet those requirements could jeopardize the health or safety of Medicare beneficiaries and could constitute a significant hazard to the public health; or
(ii) The accreditation organization has failed to meet its obligations with respect to application or reapplication procedures.
(1) An accreditation organization dissatisfied with a determination that its accreditation requirements do not provide or do not continue to provide reasonable assurance that the entities accredited by the accreditation organization meet the applicable supplier quality standards is entitled to a reconsideration. CMS reconsiders any determination to deny, remove, or not renew the approval of deeming authority to accreditation organizations if the accreditation organization files a written request for reconsideration by its authorized officials or through its legal representative.
(2) The request must be filed within 30 calendar days of the receipt of CMS notice of an adverse determination or non-renewal.
(3) The request for reconsideration must specify the findings or issues with which the accreditation organization disagrees and the reasons for the disagreement.
(4) A requestor may withdraw its request for reconsideration at any time before the issuance of a reconsideration determination.
(5) In response to a request for reconsideration, CMS provides the accreditation organization the opportunity for an informal hearing to be conducted by a hearing officer appointed by the Administrator of CMS and provide the accreditation organization the opportunity to present, in writing and in person, evidence or documentation to refute the determination to deny approval, or to withdraw or not renew deeming authority.
(6) CMS provides written notice of the time and place of the informal hearing at least 10 calendar days before the scheduled date.
(7) The informal reconsideration hearing is open to CMS and the organization requesting the reconsideration, including authorized representatives; technical advisors (individuals with knowledge of the facts of the case or presenting interpretation of the facts); and legal counsel.
(i) The hearing is conducted by the hearing officer who receives testimony and documents related to the proposed action.
(ii) Testimony and other evidence may be accepted by the hearing officer even though it is inadmissible under the rules of court procedures.
(iii) The hearing officer does not have the authority to compel by subpoena the production of witnesses, papers, or other evidence.
(8) Within 45 calendar days of the close of the hearing, the hearing officer presents the findings and recommendations to the accreditation organization that requested the reconsideration.
(9) The written report of the hearing officer includes separate numbered findings of fact and the legal conclusions of the hearing officer. The hearing officer's decision is final.
[71 FR 48409, Aug. 18, 2006]