Bid program: Stakeholders push for more meaningful fix

Friday, January 10, 2014

WASHINGTON – HME industry stakeholders are hard at work trying to leverage a small victory in their fight against competitive bidding.

In December, stakeholders succeeded in getting an amendment in the “doc fix” bill that would require providers to prove they meet licensure requirements before they are allowed to submit bids. But that’s a far cry from what they had initially sought.

“We’ll be pushing to get some of the key components of the market-pricing program into the ‘doc fix’ bill—something that would move us in a better direction,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare.

Lawmakers have until March 15 to hammer out a longer-term solution to avoiding reimbursement cuts to physician payments.

Requiring bids to be binding and setting payment amounts at the clearinghouse price are some of the elements of MPP that stakeholders are trying to get included in the “doc fix” bill.

“We’re talking to the key committees about MPP,” said Jay Witter, vice president of affairs for AAHomecare. “We think we have a good chance of convincing them that these should be included.”

As March approaches, however, there is a lurking danger: Will lawmakers eye cuts to HME—such as lowering Medicaid rates to the Medicare bid rates—to pay for the “doc fix” bill? Stakeholders haven’t heard anything.

“How they plan to pay for the bill seems to be one of the biggest kept secrets on Capitol Hill right now,” said Bachenheimer.

As for H.R. 1717, the bill that would do a full swap of competitive bidding for MPP? It’s still important to gather co-sponsors, says Witter. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., signed on last week—the first lawmaker from that state to do so—bringing the total to 165.