CMS to disgruntled bidders: We have 'process in place'

Sunday, April 6, 2008

WASHINGTON - CMS officials assured the 436 listeners to last week's Open Door Forum that they have "a process in place" for addressing concerns that some bidders were unfairly disqualified from Round 1 of national competitive bidding.

When asked, during the forum's question-and-answer period, to explain that process, CMS's Joel Kaiser said that disgruntled bidders can call 877-577-5331 and speak with a customer service representative at the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) to get detailed information on why their bids were rejected.

"Based on that information, bidders can request that there be further research into the specific information surrounding their bids," he said. "Once the CBIC is done with its review, they'll report to CMS, and CMS will work with the CBIC to further review each bid situation. Ultimately, we will reply back to the supplier on the outcome of the review. We're telling folks the process could take up to 30 days."

If a bidder receives a favorable outcome, "at that time, we'll provide additional information on what the next steps are," Kaiser said.

CMS officials told listeners to keep an eye out for upcoming Medicare Learning Network (MLN) Matters articles for more information on Round 1, which kicks off July 1 (See NewsWire story).

CMS officials said they were "on track" to announce contract providers in May.

Other tidbits from the forum:
* Accreditation. CMS will hold the second of four educational calls on accreditation on April 17 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST. Providers who plan to participate in Round 2 of competitive bidding must be accredited or apply to become accredited by May 14, 2008; they must complete the process by Oct. 31, 2008. Providers nationwide must be accredited by Sept. 30, 2009, to continue doing business with Medicare.

CMS officials squashed rumors of an accreditation backlog: "We've been hearing from some of our suppliers that there's a backlog of applications at our accreditation organizations, and we have checked with all of our deemed accrediting organizations," said CMS official Sandra Bastinelli. "While there is no backlog, it will take the accreditation organizations longer to process your applications due to the sheer volume, so you cannot wait, especially if you're competitively bidding."

* National Provider Indentifier (NPI). Providers must use NPI numbers beginning May 23, 2008. CMS officials encourage providers to speak with other health plans about NPI numbers, because Medicare will cross over claims to those plans.

* Medicare Contractor Provider Satisfaction Survey (MCPSS). CMS officials encouraged selected providers to take the 15-minute survey. The agency will use the results of the survey, available in July, to evaluate the performance of Medicare contractors and to support process improvement efforts.

* Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN). CMS released a new ABN on March 3, replacing the ABN-G, ABN-L and Notice of Exclusion from Medicare Benefits (NEMB). Providers must use the new ABN by Sept. 1, 2008.