CMS schedules PAOC meeting

Sunday, September 16, 2007

WASHINGTON - CMS last week notified the 21 members of its Program Advisory and Oversight Committee (PAOC) for national competitive bidding of its next scheduled meeting.

Members confirmed the Oct. 11 meeting but had no other details. Typically, CMS doesn't give them agendas until a few days in advance, they said.

The meeting wasn't a surprise, said Cara Bachenheimer, PAOC member and senior vice president of government relations for Invacare.

"We had asked to have a meeting after the final rule was proposed in the spring, but CMS officials said they would be too busy," she said. "They said, 'We'll have a meeting after the bids are submitted.'"

Providers who wish to participate in competitive bidding must submit bids by Sept. 25.

Although they have no agenda, members like Bachenheimer plan to "press" CMS officials for more transparency in the program.

"There's a whole lot of things that need to happen between the bids going in and the contract suppliers being announced," she said. "What we really need is data from CMS--how many providers submitted bids and what their bids look like vs. what they expected. So far, CMS hasn't been receptive to releasing that kind of information. That's critical, because we don't believe they're getting the number of bids they expected. It's like we're going into a black hole right now."