AAHomecare outlines key NCB issues

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Saturday, April 30, 2005

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- When it comes to competitive bidding, the HME industry faces a host of complex issues. As CMS works to craft a final bidding program by early 2006, AAHomecare will provide input on the following:
- Implementation: CMS has proposed three options for administering the bid process -- designating a single contractor to administer all national competitive bidding; delegating the responsibility to the four DMERCs or selecting local contractors in each MSA.
- Quality standards.
- Mechanics of bidding: Three options for bidding are being discussed: a single competition that includes all DME items, separate competitions for each product category, and separate bidding competitions for individual items.
- Product selection.
- Bidding cycles: The options for frequency and length of bidding cycles include staggering the bidding among the MSAs, allowing for off-cycle bidding, and allowing annual payment adjustments during the bidding cycle.
- MSA selection: The MMA directs CMS to start competitive bidding in 10 of the largest metropolitan statistical areas.
- Transition policies: The MMA requires transition policies to ensure continuity of service. These polices would allow losing bidders to at least keep a portion of their existing patient base when competitive bidding begins.
- Bid selection process.
- Protections for small providers: MMA requires CMS to ensure that small providers have the opportunity to participate in the bid process, but does not require it to guarantee small providers will be winning bidders.

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