Bid notices make for chaotic week for providers

Friday, December 6, 2019

WASHINGTON – The preliminary bid evaluation notices that went out last week caused confusion among providers, who say CMS is asking them for information they already submitted as part of the bid process.

The notifications, which went out Dec. 3, are likely the last communication bidders will receive until the single payment amounts for Round 2021 are announced next summer.

“It’s been a bit of a chaotic week,” said Cara Bachenheimer, chair of the government affairs practice at Brown & Fortunato. “The PBE does seem to have identified issues that were not really issues and created unnecessary work.”

The Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor uses the PBE to determine whether bidders meet overall eligibility requirements. Possible infractions include not meeting the requirements for accreditation and licensure, not having the correct bid bond and not having an active PTAN.

The majority of issues have concerned licensure, says Kelly Grahovac. It appears, in many cases, the information was not updated in PECOS by the close of the bid window Sept. 18, she says.

“We are finding, after contacting the National Supplier Clearinghouse, that the CBIC just looked at the PECOS file for what was valid at that time,” said Grahovac, senior consultant for The van Halem Group. “So, if a supplier had been in the process of making updates and sent over documentation instead of uploading it directly, then it’s likely the licenses were not uploaded (in time).”

More concerning are issues related to common ownership or unapproved bonds, says Grahovac. Some of those bids will have to be disqualified.

For providers with questions, VGM is hosting a webcast on Dec. 11, and there’s the CBIC helpline to call. Providers will want to cover all their bases, Bachenheimer says.

“Even if you swear you did it, even if you have already uploaded it, re-upload those documents just to be safe,” she said.

While the PBE process has not gone as smoothly as it might have, stakeholders say, it’s a positive sign that CMS is trying to do things right.

“They are actually trying to verify compliance,” said Bachenheimer. “In previous rounds, we were skeptical that due diligence had been performed.”