Competitive bidding update: Bill, auction and PAOC

Thursday, March 24, 2011

WASHINGTON - With members of Congress on recess last week, there are no new official co-sponsors for H.R. 1041, the bill to repeal competitive bidding, but commitments are trickling in, according to AAHomecare.

"I think this week we will see a nice bump up," said Michael Reinemer, vice president of communications and policy for AAHomecare. "People are doing follow-up meetings to firm up those commitments and restate their case."

The Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act was introduced March 11 by Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Jason Altmire, D-Pa. It has 20 co-sponsors.

While the industry's No. 1 priority is a repeal of competitive bidding, many stakeholders plan to attend the April 1 conference and mock auction organized by Prof. Peter Cramton on an alternative to the current program.

"I think what Dr. Cramton is proposing is not very well understood by the industry," said Wayne Stanfield, NAIMES president. "I think everybody there will learn what he is proposing and how he is proposing it to be conducted. Most importantly, my hope is that the government officials that are there will see why the CMS program is bad."

Despite the ongoing problems and criticisms clouding Round 1, CMS is pushing forward with Round 2. On the agenda at the April 5 meeting of the competitive bidding Program Advisory and Oversight Committee (PAOC): An hour to discuss both the Round 2 timeline and product categories. That just goes to show that CMS isn't really interested in what stakeholders have to say, said provider Gary Sheehan.

"They set up this PAOC like they are actually going to give stakeholders some input into the process but it's obviously a total farce," said Sheehan, president and CEO of Sandwich, Mass.-based Cape Medical Supply. "They should talk to the people in Round 1--winners, losers, doctors and case managers. Maybe there are certain product categories that are working and others that aren't. Maybe there are certain regulations that need to be re-examined. Talk to the people living it right now."