CMS picks about 20 for competitive bidding committee

Sunday, September 26, 2004

September 27, 2004

WASHINGTON - Invacare, Sunrise Medical, Hoveround, Apria, JCAHO and Handi Medical Supply - those are but a handful of about 21 companies and organizations whose representatives have been selected to serve on CMS’s Program Advisory and Oversight Committee for competitive bidding.

CMS contacted an initial group of finalists last Tuesday, two weeks before the group gathers for its first meeting Oct. 6 in Baltimore. The committee will provide advice on financial standards, data collection, quality standards and proposals for interaction among manufacturers, suppliers and individuals.

The proposed PAOC committee members include:

- 3 HME suppliers (Apria, Hoveround and Handi Medical Supply);

- 3 association representatives (AAHomecare, The VGM Group and National Community Pharmacy Association)

- 3 manufacturers (Invacare, Sunrise and Johnson & Johnson);

- 2 beneficiaries/consumers, one representative from the physician/provider category;

- 3 certification/standards representatives, including JCAHO;

- 6 directors, managers and analysts from various payers and government programs, such as the VA and PacifiCare - all of whom are experts in competitive bidding.

- 1 physician/provider

CMS had intended to select just 12-15 people for the committee, but the demand for inclusion has been high, especially among individuals in the HME industry. After the proposed list circulated among a closely held group, some of those who names were not on the list agitated for inclusion, and won spots.

More than 170 individuals were nominated or nominated themselves for spots on the committee.

Mary Benhardus, the owner and founder of Handi Medical Supply, a 16 year-old HME in St. Paul, Minn. that employs 50, said she nominated herself to the committee as a hedge against decisions made by people who don’t provide services.

"Mass-change always brings about loose ends, and so if we are going to do mass change with Medicare and change how services are rendered to the recipients, we need to remember what the end-user looks like," she said.

At Invacare, Vice President of Government Relations Cara Bachenheimer echoed Banehardus’ insistence on concern for the beneficiary.

"The challenge for the committee, from the consumer’s perspective and the industry’s, is how do we make this work so consumers don’t lose access to quality products and services," said Bachenheimer, who will also sit on the committee. "I don’t think anyone has the easy answer to that. But that’s the challenge everyone is gong to be faced with."

Hoveround’s medical director, Don Vliegenthart, M.D., wrote in a statement that he planned to focus on patient care, supplier quality and accreditation standards as a member of the PAOC.

"I am passionately committed to the development of more efficient methods to allocate the nation’s resources efficiently and deliver DME products, and good quality healthcare in general, to our nation’s citizens in the most cost effective manner possible," he wrote in an e-mail to HME News.

The PAOC committee will also provide guidance on a set of new supplier standards that the MMA mandates that HME suppliers must meet at an as yet undefined point in the next couple of years. The Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina is now working on a draft of those guidelines.

Accordingly, CMS has selected three representatives from certification or standards organizations.

"I am most concerned about making sure that we are not only determining the delivery of equipment but also what that entails in terms of service, safety and quality," said Maryann Popovich, the executive director of JCAHO’s Home Care Accreditation Program.

While CMS had made it clear that the PAOC committee is not a forum to discuss the merits of competitive bidding, Bachenheimer said roll-out of a nationwide program in 2007 is still far from a fait accompli.

"The industry is subject to competitive bidding because a very unique set of circumstance came together and I’m not sure that will be repeated," she said. "There are opportunities to get rid of it, delay it, change it significantly, any or all of the above. There is not a groundswell of support in Congress for it."


1. Cara Bachenheimer – Vice President of Government Relations, Invacare Corporation.

2. Robert Baum – Program Manager for the Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service, Strategic Healthcare Group, Veterans Health Administration (VA) Central office, Washington, DC.

3. Mary Benhardus – Founder and controlling owner, Handi Medical Supply Inc.

4. Henry Claypool - Expert adviser to Social Security Administration’s Deputy Commissioner to advise on Interim Medical Benefits

5. Asela Cuervo – Senior Vice President, American Association for Homecare.

6. David Gray – Associate Professor of Neurology and Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine.

7. Don Hawley, M.D. – Program Director, Utah Department of Health, Division of Utah Health Care Financing.

8. Lawrence Higby – President and CFO, Apria Healthcare.

9. Rita Hostak – Vice President, Home Healthcare Group of Sunrise Medical Inc.

10. Dave Kazynski – President, Van G. Miller & Associates’s HOMELINK division.

11. Anthony Filippis – President and CEO, Wright & Filippis. Practicing certified prosthetist/orthotist.

12. Alan McMullen – Cost Reimbursement Analyst, Medical Assistance Administration, Department of Social & Health Services, State of Washington.

13. Jean Minkel – Founder and President, Minkel Consulting. Specializes in Assistive technology.

14. William Popomaronis – Vice President, Long-Term/Home Health Care Pharmacy Services, The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

15. Maryanne Popovich – Executive Director, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

16. John Prassas – Director, Corporate Provider Development & Contracting, PacifiCare Health Plans.

17. Chris Reisdorf – Manager, Benefit Policy Unit - Minnesota Health Care Programs – Medical Assistance, General Assistance Medical Care, and Minnesota Care programs.

18. David Van Sleet – VISN 1 Prosthetics Manager, Department of Veterans Affairs, New England Healthcare System.

19. Ken Viste, M.D. – Medical Director, Physical Rehabilitation Unit Mercy Medical Center and Staff Physician, St. Agnes Hospital.

20. Don Vliegenthart. M.D. – Medical Director, Hoveround Corporation.

21. Daniel Waldmann – Director of Federal Affairs, Johnson & Johnson, Inc.