DHSMA provides status of CMS certification - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DHSMA provides status of CMS certification

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - Faced with challenges the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center is far from CMS certification. But even more alarming is that they are charging for service they may not be legally able to bill for.

It was on Tuesday that the Center appears before District Court Judge Consuela Marshall to provide a status update on operations at the center. And while progress has been made it seems the department is behind on the timeline they provided, Attorney Daniel Somerfleck said, "I think the thing that was disappointing in regards to the CMS was that it was represented at the transition that they would be in process of this and that they would have certification going and that hopefully by September of 2013 we would have some certification in place well now we are in 2014 June."

He says they haven't done a site assessment which is the first step in the process to obtain certification. As we reported last year the center resumed control after federal recievership and it is now up to GovGuam to come into compliance with the amended permanent injunction. Part of that injunction is to receive certification from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services by to ensure that the facility and care meet the requirements.  "And then they were suggesting they would obtain another accreditation and that nice but we had a number of years back stipulated with them if they got Joint Commission accreditation that we would consider that they had met the minimum care standards," he said.

But the Center's director Rey Vega shared that they are faced with challenges which have slowed the process, noting, "We are still lacking key employees that are part of the condition of participation meaning that you have to have that in place before they will even start to entertain you for certification. One of the of the key positions that is very important is the administrator for nursing services as we know the one qualified for that position has since retired so we need to fill that position."

According to Vega they are also lacking a certified medical records administrator but are exploring the option of contract hiring in order for the certification process. While Vega says they are continuing their efforts for certification he revealed that the center intends to also receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities. Sommerfleck says while that is nice without CMS certification and no approved fee schedule they cannot charge for services, "One of the disappointing things was the initially asserted that they didn't collect from consumers but as the hearing progressed it was the director that put forward that they collected money from consumers."

Vega confirms that in February they did started billing and in court Judge Marshal instructed the attorney general to review the public law to determine whether or not they can legally charge fees. In response he says that they have stopped billing and collection as instructed by the court. 

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