Bid window closes … without much fanfare

‘If we get the bid at our prices, great; if not, we will continue to operate per usual’
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Friday, September 20, 2019

YARMOUTH, Maine – Respondents to a recent HME Newspoll report having a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward Medicare, in the wake of the bid window for Round 2021 closing on Sept. 18.

With increasingly diversified businesses that include non-Medicare payers and cash sales, respondents report they’ve tried as much as possible to insulate themselves from the competitive bidding program.

“We are submitting bids for the Omaha, Neb., area,” wrote Joe Frey of Triumph Home Health Supplies. “However, based on previous bidding failures, we are not treating this bid as a race to the bottom. If we get the bid at our prices, great; if not, we will continue to operate per usual.”

Respondents were nearly split down the middle on whether or not they planned to submit a bid for Round 2021.

Even for respondents who planned to bid, it will largely be business as usual during the one-year gap between CMS closing the bid window this fall and announcing contract suppliers next fall, albeit with a little belt tightening and wishful thinking mixed in.

“I plan to use my existing inventory efficiently and buy new inventory only when required,” wrote one provider. “I pray that people bid smart and that CMS gets this one right.”

Some respondents do plan to use the one-year gap to advocate for retaining 50-50 blended reimbursement rates in rural areas. Those rates are good through 2020, but unless they’re extended, they could be negatively impacted by the new bid rates that go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

“We’re going to work on our congressional reps to make sure the rural carve-out pricing remains intact,” wrote one respondent.

For a number of the nearly half of respondents who didn’t plan to bid, it’s a decision they made early on and one they’re sticking with.

“We will continue on as we have for the past seven years—no bids submitted,” wrote one provider. “We have done quite well providing selected products that serve our community and are profitable, so we can remain in business.”

For others, the decision not to bid was more recent.

“With the low reimbursement and high maintenance of taking Medicare, we prefer to not participate in the bidding program any longer,” wrote Jamie Hagan of Community Home Medical. “So it no longer has an impact on our business model.”