Final rule for NCB approaches release

Sunday, March 18, 2007

WASHINGTON - CMS's final rule for national competitive bidding is in final clearance at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the industry learned last week. The rule has been at the OMB before, but this time, it was actually published on the agency's docket, sources say.

AAHomecare expects the rule to clear the OMB "quickly," because CMS must kick off NCB some time in 2007 (In the past, the agency has indicated an October start date). Once it's cleared, the Government Printing Office will publish the rule in the Federal Register and CMS will post it on its Web site.

The rule will take effect 60 days after it's published.

But "the fact that it doesn't go into effect for 60 days isn't important, because no one's going to wait to get the ball rolling," said industry attorney Asela Cuervo.

The industry expects the rule to outline CMS's timeline for rolling out competitive bidding. It will also outline information like how the bidding process will work--all the "nuts and bolts," Cuervo said.

"It may not go into minute detail," she said. "Additional details may be flushed out in subsequent program memos."

Although the final rule won't include the 10 cities where competitive bidding will take place or the products CMS will put out to bid, the industry expects the agency to post additional information at the same time as the final rule.