Clock starts ticking on Round 2

Thursday, December 1, 2011

BALTIMORE - If you're an HME provider in a Round 2 competitive bidding area, you're running out of excuses not to get ready for the program, industry stakeholders say.

CMS announced Nov. 30 a more detailed timeline for Round 2, including a registration that kicks off today (Dec. 5), and a bid window that opens Jan. 30 and closes March 30.

"Providers need to start getting everything ready--their 855S form, their credit report, their billing system," said Wayne Grau, vice president of contracting and business services for The MED Group. "If they start investing four or five hours a week on this thing, they're going to be ready. They can't stick their head in the sand and hope it goes away."

Until its Nov. 30 announcement, CMS had provided only a vague timeline for Round 2. It had stated, for example, that it would begin registration in "Fall 2011" and begin bidding in "Winter 2012."

Industry stakeholders recommend providers in Round 2 areas register for competitive bidding sooner rather than later, because the process can take some time. That goes for providers that are on the fence about participating in the program, too.

"Providers have to register to keep their options open," said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. "It's probably not a good idea for them to think they're not going to register or that they're not going to participate in one way or another."

While industry stakeholders are encouraging providers to be prepared, they're skeptical that CMS will be. Compared to Round 1, the agency will have to collect and review bids for 10 times as many areas in Round 2.

"Look at the dates for when the bid window closes and the single payment amounts are announced--they're leaving themselves about six months to evaluate contracts," said Walt Gorksi, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. "This is a cumbersome process, and when processes are cumbersome, that's when mistakes get made."

In addition to announcing a more detailed timeline, CMS announced an enhanced bidder education program for Round 2 that features updated fact sheets and a series of webcasts. That's all well and good, industry stakeholders say, but the problems they had with Round 1, including a lack of transparency surrounding financial requirements, remain outstanding.

That's why industry stakeholders continue to lobby lawmakers to support an alternative to competitive bidding. They're asking lawmakers to attach their market-pricing program (MPP) to one of the bills that must get passed before the end of the year, like the "doc fix" bill.

"Hopefully, CMS's announcement will re-energize the industry to educate our legislators on the reasons why MPP is so important to be put in place before the bid window opens," said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.

For a complete timeline for Round 2, go here.

For new bidding instructions, go here.



Somethings wrong, both with the HME industry and CMS. The HME industry really does not seem to have any front runner against this CB monster. Nobody has stepped up, no association, no consumer groups, no senior/elder programs, no manufactor...nobody has stood up and kicked CMS right back in the mouth. Why? <br />
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Secondly, either Obama&#39;s administration is either ruining our country or he does not have a clue about whats going on. Literally, companies will be closing and people will be losing jobs. This goeas against everything he talks about in his "home gym" speeches.<br />
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I heard it mentioned the other day that every DME company in America should just refuse to bid. Everyone...What would happen if every DME company in America told CMS, "hey, I am just not going to take it anymore....I will charge everybody for cash..I will ask all my elderly customer to pay out of pocket...before someon needs tha o2 tank I need my money." What if....maybe that is the attitude CMS needs to hear.

You are wrong about no one try to put CMS&#39;s irons to the fire. If you haven&#39;t heard about or read about the "Nichole Medical" case against CMS, Tri-Centurion and NHIC (the East Carrier) I suggest you do. It is not about competitive bidding but Post Payment audits. You may also want to read some of my comments and Editorials that have been printed by HME News. The Decision of this case will affect not only the HME Industry but every healthcare medicare provider in the country. A Court Decision is either going to hold CMS accountable for it&#39;s actions or give them total unlimited omnipotent power unaccountable to anyone not even the courts. If you forward me your "E" Mail address I will send you a copy of something I wrote a couple of weeks ago to HME News but it has not yet been published you might have a better idea of what really is goung on! I have been very clear since my legal team has given me the green light to go public with everything but I have been fighting a battle with CMS since 2004. I have written and said the healthcare industry has not been successful legislatively and certainly the executive branch won&#39;t touch healthcare that leaves only one venue for battle and that is "The Courts". My "E" Mail address is;