Bid program: Providers go through the motions

Thursday, January 5, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine - Their hearts aren't really in it, but left with no choice, home medical equipment providers have set out to meet CMS's timeline for Round 2 of competitive bidding.

The first deadline: CMS "strongly encouraged" registering for Round 2 of competitive bidding by Dec. 22. Some providers were in less of a hurry than others.

"We'll do it first thing in 2012," said Andy Simmons Jr., vice president of Cornerstone Medical in Atlanta. "We figured we'd let everyone else get past this imaginary target date and then we'd get in."

The registration deadline for both authorized officials and backup authorized officials isn't until Feb. 9, but the competitive bidding implementation contractor (CBIC) urged officials to register by Dec. 22 and Jan. 12, respectively, to give itself and providers time to solve any problems that might come up.

Aside from some logistical problems, like information entered into the registration system not matching the information on file, providers contacted by HME News who have already registered reported few problems.

"It was pretty much old hat," said Jaime Blair, vice president of Genesis Oxygen & Home Medical Equipment in New Boston, Ohio, who also participated in Round 1.

Providers in the 91 areas included in Round 2 also have their eye on the next set of deadlines in the CMS's timeline: The 60-day bid window opens Jan. 30, the review date for bidders to submit financial documents ends Feb. 29, and the bid window closes March 30.

Provider Marcia Togami, who has already registered, was up to her eyeballs in end-of-the-year activities in December, including an accreditation renewal, but she planned to start prepping to submit a bid in early January.

"We're going to download the codes that that we want to bid on and then we're going to let our systems do their thing, calculating our costs vs. the current reimbursement vs. reduced reimbursement, and go from there," said Togami, special projects manager for A&R Medical Supply in Albuquerque, N.M. "We hope to get everything in early, so if there are any issues, they can get back to us."

Even though providers are starting the process for Round 2, they're still unsure how they're going to stomach additional cuts to reimbursement. Provider Jim Fallon says he's already: convinced his landlord to reduce his rent, cut the salaries of his employees and changed his company insurance plan, all to save money after CMS eliminated reimbursement for two of his product lines recently, dealing a $800,000 blow to his bottom line.

"We're bare bones already," said Fallon, president and CFO of MediRest in Birmingham, Ala. "But we have to submit a bid.



This is a dying industry. We can put a happy face on it all we want but no one focued on generating a fair return on investment would ever think about buying one of our companies.

You are absolutely right.