CMS populates the committee on NCB

Sunday, October 31, 2004

WASHINGTON - Invacare, Sunrise Medical, Hoveround, Apria, JCAHO and Handi Medical Supply - those are but a handful of 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 Sept. 21, two weeks before the group was to gather for its first meeting Oct. 6 in Baltimore. The committee will provide advice on implementing competitive bidding related to financial standards, data collection, quality standards and proposals for interaction among manufacturers, suppliers and individuals.

The PAOC committee members include:

- Three HME suppliers (Apria, Hoveround, Handi Medical);

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

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

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

- Three certification/standards representatives, including JCAHO;

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

- One 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 for spots on the committee.

Mary Benhardus, 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 going to be faced with.”

While CMS has 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.”
PAOC members:
1. Cara Bachenheimer – v.p of government realtions at Invacare.

2. Robert Baum – a program manager at the VA.

3. Mary Benhardus – founder of Handi Medical Supply.

4. Henry Claypool - adviser to an SSA Deputy Commissioner.

5. Asela Cuervo – regulatory affairs expert for AAHomecare.

6. David Gray – associate professor of neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine.

7. Don Hawley, M.D. – program director at Utah Department of Health.

8. Lawrence Higby – president and CFO at Apria Healthcare.

9. Rita Hostak – a vice president at Sunrise Medical.

10. Dave Kazynski – president of VGM’s Homelink division

11. Anthony Filippis – president and CEO of Wright & Filippis

12. Alan McMullen – cost reimbursement analyst for the state of Washington.

13. Jean Minkel – president of Minkel Consulting.

14. William Popomaronis – a v.p. at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)

15. Maryanne Popovich – an executive director at JCAHO

16. John Prassas – a director at PacifiCare Health Plans.

17. Chris Reisdorf – a manager at Minnesota Health Care Programs.

18. David Van Sleet – a prosthetics manager at the VA.

19. Ken Viste, M.D. – a medical director at St. Agnes Hospital.

20. Don Vliegenthart. M.D. – medical director of Hoveround

21. Daniel Waldmann– director of federal affairs at Johnson & Johnson.