Competitive bidding may begin this week

Sunday, April 29, 2007

WASHINGTON - Look for competitive bidding to kick off in earnest sometime this week, possibly today, said CMS officials during last Wednesday's Open Door Forum.

"Everybody should be prepared for the start of the 60-day bidding period," said one official. "Part of that preparation is to get the user ID and password that you need to get onto our online system to submit your bid."

CMS also announced plans to ramp up its NCB educational offerings, including conferences designed to walk bidders through the process and a "bidder's information chart."

"It's a spreadsheet for bidders containing information they need to have on hand as they are making decisions about what categories to bid for and what their bid amounts should be," said a CMS official.

The chart will contain product categories--including HCPC codes and descriptions, utilization data for calendar years 2005 and 2006, maps, zip codes and bid type.

A CMS official said the agency hoped to clear up confusion over capped rental items. Medicare currently caps DME rental payments at 13 months, and will follow the same procedure under competitive bidding, the official explained.

"We're asking suppliers to submit purchase bids," said an official. "However, Medicare is not going to be paying purchase (price) for these items. We're using purchase bids to calculate rental for the first three months equal to 10% of the purchase amount; and for months four--13, 7.5% of the purchase amount submitted."

CMS also said it was dropping Group 3 support surfaces--essentially, code E0194--from that category, leaving just Group 2 items in that category. Under the mail order diabetic supplies category, code A4255 is being dropped because it is obsolete.