Florida delays competitive bidding

Friday, October 31, 2003

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Medicaid officials have delayed kicking off a new competitive bidding program in order to get a waiver from CMS that would allow the state to limit patient freedom of choice.

The state originally planned to issue a request for proposal Oct. 1 but pushed that date back to Oct. 26, said Joan Cross, president of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Supplies.

Florida wants to hold the pilot competitive bidding program in Miami or one of the state’s other metropolitan areas.

In January, providers won a lawsuit to stop Medicaid’s attempt to implement competitive bidding. In that lawsuit, FAMES argued that the state failed to get a waiver or exemption from CMS that would allow the state to implement competitive bidding. Congress allows states to limit freedom of choice in certain situations if doing so does not result in a reduction in the quality of services provided.

After winning the lawsuit, FAMES members thought they’d staved off the issue for the foreseeable future, but in its new budget for Fiscal 2004, Florida has proposed a competitive bidding demonstration project.

Another provider lawsuit could be in the works if the state moves forward with competitive bidding.

“The industry is already planning it,” Cross said. “It will be supported by FAMES but not paid for by FAMES. It will be paid for by the people who will be affected. We will continue to work with our state legislators and stall this until we get something from them.”