CMS reveals competitive bidding sites for 2007

Sunday, April 1, 2007

WASHINGTON – CMS provided some clarity last week on where it intends to kick off competitive bidding later this year. On Friday, the final 10 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) appeared on a Medicare Web site ( but then disappeared.

"It's up there again, we think, but people find it randomly now," said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. "We're pretty sure that this is the real thing."

The 10 MSAs on the list are:

Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C.
Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
Kansas City, Kan-Mo.
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla.
Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario, Calif.
Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.
Pittsburgh, Pa.
San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

Industry watchers initially expected CMS to release the final rule on competitive bidding, including what products will be put out to bid. But Friday afternoon, sources said that would not happen. CMS still has some loose ends to wrap up, and all bets are off as to when the final draft will be released. It could be this week--possibly today--but with Congress on a two-week break, that's not a given, sources said.

The final list of 10 MSAs holds some surprises, including two Ohio communities (Cincinnati and Cleveland), which seemed unfair to some.

"Oh, lord," said Kam Yuricich, executive director of the Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services (OAMES). "It's very disappointing. I think the association will need some expert advice on the rule."

Another surprise: Leaving out Houston.

The 2002 Wheeler Dealer power wheelchair scam occurred in Houston (Harris County) and defrauded Medicare out of tens of millions of dollars in phony claims. Given the history of fraud there, it seemed only natural that Houston would be an initial site for competitive bidding, said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group.

While the list includes some controversial picks and omissions, it also provides critical information and the first real guidepost from CMS on competitive bidding, Gorski said.

"Providers who fall in these MSAs must start looking at accreditation immediately--if they are not already," he said.