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Compliance…Staying the course through rough waters

October 21, 2013

Long before “compliance” was a field in which one could create a career; long before the sheer utterance of the  word struck fear in the hearts of even the most undaunted providers; long before compliance guidance was issued by the OIG (office of Inspector General); I was trying to do the right things in the right way. I still am. I read, read and then read some more. I interpret. I infer. I make educated leaps based on my experience with CMS and the federal agencies that monitor our work. Yet there are times no amount of reading, interpretation, and inference can decipher federal publications. I need help and guidance. For that I go right to the source, CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services).  If one wants to do the right things in the right way, the agency that writes the rules is the best source of clarification. Right? One would think so.

The CMS website has an Outreach & Education section on which you can find answers to many questions. CMS also provides a user with the ability to post questions directly to the source. I have posted many questions here. Currently I have three questions outstanding with CMS. All three have aged to over a year old without a response. I need clarification. I need guidance. This lack of response does not help me do the right thing the right way for the health centers with which I work. I trudge along doing the best I can with the facts I have.

On this rainy Saturday morning I decided to log in and check the status of my inquiries. I clicked on “Check Status of Request” as I do on the first of every month. However, on this the first of June 2012, I got an unexpected response. My inquiry returned a new screen, on it is stated (in red no less) “We recently upgraded our system and all users will need to create a new account. If you are inquiring about a request submitted prior to March 30, 2012, please resubmit your original request.” Luckily, I was in the office alone when the primal scream emerged from me. The first human response would be…I give up. Will I? No. I begin again, undeterred from my mission and still fervent in my desire to do the right things in the right way. Perhaps with a new sense of resolve I will push a little harder; become a little more vocal; ask for a little more satisfaction from this federal body for whom outreach and education is so important. I will not become apathetic, dispassionate or disinterested in my quest. You should not either.

It is still my job to do the right things in the right way. It is still my job to insist on guidance and clarification from CMS. It is still my job to provide accurate answers to health centers when asked. I will still do my job but perhaps now with a greater sense of persistence. We all must.

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