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The Wawa Saga Continues: Atlantic Issues Semi-Retraction

The Wawa Saga Continues: Atlantic Issues Semi-Retraction

The Wawa saga continues. Over at Mediaite, Tommy Christopher has written two posts claiming that Romney lied about the change of address form. His proof is a link to this four-page form which, he claims, is the only form the optometrist would have needed to change addresses.

Tommy is almost certainly wrong about this for two reasons. First, the form he linked is labeled “EMEDNY-610101 (11/10).” It’s a form for NY State Medicaid. Since Romney was in PA when he spoke, this would not be the form a doctor there would use to change addresses.

Secondly, Tommy is assuming that the optometrist in question was only taking Medicaid. However, what Romney actually said was, “He got a form from the federal government, this is so he can get reimbursement from the federal government for the services he provides for the poor and seniors.” That sounds like it could be Medicare and Medicaid to me. I suggested above that it could be this 27-page form, i.e. CMS 855I. However, a commenter on Mediaite points out that there is a related form CMS 855S which specifically mentions optometrists on page two, saying they must use this form if:

Currently enrolled in Medicare as a DMEPOS supplier and need to report changes to your business, other than enrolling a new business location (e.g., you are adding, deleting, or changing existing information under this Medicare supplier billing number). Changes must be reported within 30 days of the effective date of the change.

The form is also used for adding a new business location (rather than making a change to an existing business location). Form CMS 855S is 37 pages long.

Meanwhile, over at the Atlantic, James Fallows has written a followup post in which he does a semi-retraction of his previous claim about the length of the form:

After I mentioned this part of Romney’s speech, to explain how he was making his case about public/private differences, many people wrote in to make a point I hadn’t: that in fact it’s very easy to make a USPS change. So I went back to see the tape.

He just went back to the tape. No reason offered. Could it be because he saw this post, which was up hours before he decided to revisit what he’d written? Now the semi-retraction part:

It is possible though not spelled-out that the optometrist had been talking about getting the Medicare and Medicare systems to change his registered billing address, which could well be more complex. I am not inviting more correspondence on how Medicare billing actually works, nor the merits of its being more complex than the either Wawa or the USPS. (For instance: billing fraud is a huge issue for Medicare / Medicaid, so new addresses are a bigger deal there. Similarly, the first time you ask Amazon to send a shipment to a new address, they require extra verification.) I am saying that if this is what the optometrist had in mind when telling his story to Romney, then the 33 pages make a lot more sense.

Contrary to what Fallows claims, it’s not only possible the optometrist was talking about Medicare and Medicaid, it’s nearly certain. Remember, Romney said “He got a form from the federal government, this is so he can get reimbursement from the federal government for the services he provides for the poor and seniors.” Possible? I think we can do better than that.

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