CMS, OMB dicker over particulars

Saturday, December 31, 2005

WASHINGTON - Word on the street is that CMS won't release its national competitive bidding proposal until some time this month.
The Office of Management and Budget, where the proposal is being reviewed, and CMS are "trying to work through issues," but the industry has "no idea" what those issues are, said Seth Johnson, director of government affairs for Pride Mobility.
"We're hearing it could be a quiet December from a competitive bidding standpoint," he said last month.
The industry has been waiting for CMS to provide more details on its plan to kick off NCB in 10 metropolitan statistical areas in 2007. For example, industry officials want to know what products will be bid and in what 10 MSAs.
At a Dec. 15 Open Door Forum, CMS officials said they would release details "fairly soon." But when a caller asked if that meant before the end of 2005, they failed to provide further details.
"We are going to be posting on the DMEPOS competitive bidding Web site exactly when it will be published," an official said. "We have a better idea."
The proposal's delay could mean that CMS won't be able to implement NCB until "well into 2007," said Cara Bachenheimer, vice president of government relations for Invacare. The Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) requires CMS to implement competitive bidding in 2007, but it doesn't specify what month, she said.
"Everyone has had the assumption that it would be Jan. 1, 2007, but that's not necessarily the case," Bachenheimer said. hme