Bid fight: Stakeholders keep heads down
WASHINGTON – Fresh off a congressional hearing on competitive bidding, industry stakeholders last week seized the momentum by working to build an even stronger case against the program.
At the top of their to-do list: Compiling a list of businesses in Round 1 competitive bidding areas (CBAs) that have closed, per a request by Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio. Numbers weren't available at press time on Friday afternoon.
"We have received a number of reports from manufacturers who sell HME items to providers, our state leaders and buying groups that highlight the negative effects of competitive bidding," said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare, which is compiling the list.
The hearing took place May 9 before members of the Subcommittee on Health of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Rob Brant, founder of AMEPA, has identified seven contract providers in the Miami CBA that have gone out of business. If you look at the non-contract providers that have closed, "there's a ton," he said.
"There were 400 providers in 2009 before mandatory accreditation and surety bonds went into effect," said Brant, a Round 1 contract winner in the Miami CBA who closed his own company, City Medical, last spring. "After that it dropped to below 200."
Post-hearing, the industry is also condemning several comments made by Laurence Wilson, director of CMS's Chronic Care Policy Group, about the industry's market-pricing program (MPP). Among other things, he said that he believed the proposal would hold providers to their current levels of business, rather than allowing them to increase their business.
"His review or understanding is somewhat limited because the language for MPP isn't out there for formal vetting and review by Medicare," said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility. "But his statement regarding capacity was completely inaccurate."
Not that the industry expects CMS to embrace MPP, say stakeholders.
"CMS is too far along with Round 2, and they are going to see it through," said Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES.
Stakeholders expect lawmakers to continue to push CMS for the data its using to gauge the success of competitive bidding.
"CMS has steadfastly refused to provide requested data to Congress," said Cara Bachenheimer. "That's one of those things that irritates people on the Hill. We would love to have access to the data that CMS is using to come to these grand conclusions."