To the editor:

Immediately prior to adjournment, Congress passed the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1990. One last-minute, little-known provision stipulates that suppliers may not distribute to physicians or patients any completed or partially completed forms for Certificates of Medical Necessity (CMN).Any supplier who willfully violates that new law may be subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 for each form that is distributed.

In the past, medical equipment dealers and other suppliers have filled out forms, as a service to doctors, and submitted the CMN for them for verification and signatures. This has facilitated the physicians' authorization for equipment and supplies which they feel are desirable or necessary for injury. As of Jan. 1, 1991, the physician and office staff will have the responsibility for completing the form in full.

In addition to placing unnecessary paperwork on doctors, the new enacted provision could adversely affect patients as well. In some instances, the time lag in completing the CMN will postpone the patient's discharge from the hospital, lead to unjustified costs for continued hospital stay, and result in the patient's delay in receiving the prescribed equipment or services.

Fortunately, initiatives are under way to encourage Congress to revise this burdensome administrative responsibility upon doctors. On behalf of Medicare patients as well, may we encourage physicians and their medical societies to join medical equipment dealers in writing to their congressmen to amend or revise this new requirement in the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1990.

James E. Robinson, CPA


Interwest Medical