Bid program: Senate letter creates opportunity
WASHINGTON – Thirty-one senators, as of press time on Friday, had signed a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner asking her not to expand the competitive bidding program until the Office of Inspector General completes an investigation of Round 2.
“We are seeing results,” said Jay Witter, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare.
CMS in February published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comments on developing a methodology to apply bid rates to non-bid areas; and bundling payments for certain DME. The agency received 185 comments, mostly critical of the proposal.
In the letter, Sens. John Hune, R-S.D., Robert Casey, D-Pa., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., express particular concern with the impact of competitive bidding prices on rural areas.
“DMEPOS are especially vital and necessary to resident beneficiaries, ad we question whether an apples-to-apples comparison with urban areas is the best approach, especially since there are some concerns with the bidding process in Round 1 and Round 2,” the letter states.
It’s the first time senators have taken a stance on competitive bidding, possibly paving the way for future progress, stakeholders say.
“We are getting emails from Senate staff asking all these questions about competitive bidding, so it’s an opportunity to educate and update them on the issue,” said Witter.
Education is key if the industry wants to get any help from lawmakers, says Doug Coleman, president of the Colorado Association for Medical Equipment Suppliers (CAMES). He secured the support of two senators from Colorado and Wyoming during the *AAHomecare Legislative Conference earlier this month.
“I do think that continuing to have a presence at those fly-ins is important,” he said. “You’ve established the relationship and when you have an ask, you’ve laid the groundwork with the education.”
In “AAHomecare closes in on key issues” in the May 12 HME Newswire, the quote from Kim Brandt should have read: “Then we’ll work with the chairman to have a hearing after July 4.”