Competitive bidding: Industry tries to unravel CBO's score

Thursday, May 6, 2010

WASHINGTON - What will it cost to repeal national competitive bidding? The industry now has an idea.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has given H.R. 3790 a preliminary score of $9.6 billion over 10 years, the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES) reported in a bulletin to its members last week.

Industry stakeholders crafted H.R. 3790 to be budget neutral, but the recently passed healthcare reform bill took away some of its pay-fors, including a 2% payment increase for HME in 2014. They were waiting for a score from the CBO to have a better idea of what additional pay-fors they may have to offer.

Even with a preliminary score, though, there's still a lot of uncertainty, because industry stakeholders aren't sure how the CBO came up with its $9.6 billion price tag.

"We don't know what was included in the score," said Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. "It could be better or worse than we thought, based on that unknown."

AAHomecare alerted its members that the CBO had given H.R. 3790 a preliminary score, but association officials wouldn't comment, specifically, on the $9.6 billion figure.

"We're trying to sort through the details and find out what the various assumptions are that make up this score--that's all I'll say," said Walt Gorski, AAHomecare's vice president of government affairs.

AAHomecare last week had a meeting with the office of Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., the sponsor of H.R. 3790, to discuss the CBO's score and "to evaluate changes that may be needed in the HME community's plan for getting House and Senate action on the legislation."

Industry stakeholders stressed the need for providers to continue collecting co-sponsors for H.R. 3790 and looking for a sponsor for a companion bill in the Senate.

At press time last week, H.R. 3790 had 231 co-sponsors.