Bidding talk abounds

Thursday, October 6, 2011

WASHINGTON – The Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPac) voted last week to recommend that Congress repeal the current system used to set the physician fee schedule and pay for it with a mix of cuts to other providers, including HME providers.

MedPac in September released a draft list of offsets that included "apply the competitive bidding offset to all competition-eligible DME categories starting in 2012" for $2 billion in savings over 10 years, and "apply the competitive bidding offset to the DME categories never subject to competitive bidding" for $8 billion in savings over 10 years.

Another recommendation: "Additional reductions through competitive bidding or fee schedule reductions to payments for home oxygen" for $5 billion in savings over 10 years.

“We still don’t fully understand the recommendations, and they didn’t officially vote on them during their meeting, but the danger is that they’re being reinforced,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “MedPac is saying, ‘These things are hanging out there if you’re looking for ideas.’”

MedPac’s recommendations also include prepayment review for all power wheelchairs for $200 million in savings over 10 years.

Lawmakers request report

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., along with Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last week requesting an “immediate and complete” review of Round 1 of the bid program.

“This review is the first step in determining the true impact of NCB on beneficiaries, suppliers, jobs and the future of DME,” stated CSIHME in a release. “The results of this study will play a key role in the direction of future legislation to make changes to the program.”

Rogers chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee and Rehberg chairs a subcommittee of that committee.

In its review, Rehberg and Rogers ask the GAO to consider, among other things: What is the impact on beneficiary access to quality and timely services; what is the impact on jobs generally; what is the impact on job loss for small DME businesses; and should winning bidders be required to deliver products and services at their bid prices?

Rehberg and Rogers ask the GAO to report back to the committee by Feb. 1, 2012.

The letter was the culmination of months of work by Capitol Hill Consulting, provider Mike Calcaterra of Norco and Wayne Stanfield of NAIMES, according to the release.

CMS updates tools

CMS last week posted interactive U.S. map and ZIP code look-up tools to the CBIC website,

The map now displays the Round 1, Round 2 and national mail-order competitive bid areas. The ZIP code tool now includes the codes for Round 2 and the national mail-order competition.

CMS also posted a fact sheet that lists the 100 CBAs included in Round 2.

For more, click here.