CMS hires contractor

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BALTIMORE - HME providers moved a step closer to national competitive bidding Oct. 13 when CMS announced that it had hired Palmetto GBA to administer the program.
Appointing the former Region C DMERC to become the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) comes as no great surprise. Palmetto previously ran CMS's demonstration projects in Polk County, Fla., and San Antonio.
"If I had had to bet money, I would have said Palmetto because they have the experience, and it makes sense to give the contract to someone who has experience," said industry attorney Asela Cuervo.
As part of its CBIC duties, Palmetto will prepare and evaluate the request for bids (RFB), select qualified suppliers, set payments for all competitive bidding areas, and oversee an education program for beneficiaries, suppliers and referral agents. Palmetto will also assist CMS and its contractors to monitor program effectiveness, access and quality.
The first CBIC contract cycle began Sept. 29, 2006. CMS can expand the competitive bidding geographic areas by exercising two additional contract options.
CMS still must issue the final rule for competitive bidding, including what products it will bid and in what 10 cities. The program will begin some time next year.
At Medtrade in September, a CMS official said a final rule would be released Nov. 15. However, because CMS routinely sets deadlines and then extends them, that date is not cut in stone, said industry sources.