Competitive bidding: Industry closes in

Sunday, July 19, 2009

WASHINGTON - The introduction of a bill to eliminate national competitive bidding is "imminent," AAHomecare's Walt Gorski said last week. Gorski, the association's vice president of government affairs, urges providers to reach out to lawmakers now. "We need lawmakers to be ready to support the bill when it's introduced," he said.

Senator takes on fight

WASHINGTON - A member of the Senate Finance Committee called for adding an "any willing provider" provision to the program this week. The provision would allow all Medicare providers to continue providing equipment and services, as long as they accept the reimbursement rates set by winning bidders. "This may better maintain the competitive nature of the industry as it is today and help postpone the closure of many domestic and often rural businesses nationwide," stated Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in a July 13 dear colleague letter. Industry stakeholders urge providers to ask their senators to sign the letter. Wyden will send it to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Portland, Ore.-based Care Medical and Rehabilitation Equipment worked with Wyden to craft the letter.

Industry has friend in CRE

WASHINGTON - The HME industry is not alone in believing that national competitive bidding is bad for small businesses. In a July 14 letter to Jeffery Zients, the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Jim Tozzi, a board member for the Center of Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE), a watchdog group, wrote that competitive bidding should be used "to set prices but not to determine which companies are eligible to participate." Tozzi points out that CMS is developing a competitive bidding system for Medicare Advantage plans that would set prices but not exclude companies. The goal of competitive bidding, Tozzi writes, should be to "protect small business while still achieving the cost savings." Tozzi also sent a copy of his letter to Charlene Frizzera, CMS's acting administrator.