GAO, AAHomecare meet on competitive bidding

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WASHINGTON - AAHomecare met with the Government Accountability Office last week to discuss concerns with Medicare's competitive bidding program.

"They want to know how the program is working," said Joel Marx, president of Cleveland-based Medical Service Co. and AAHomecare chairman. 

The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 requires the GAO to conduct a study the competitive bidding program. The GAO will also meet with CMS and patient groups before issuing its report in January.

GAO officials came prepared with questions, said Marx.

"They know the industry and they probed for specifics," he said.

AAHomecare had a laundry list of specific concerns about the program, including lack of transparency; flaws in the bidding methodology; and the impact on beneficiaries and providers. 

The issue of "bona fide" bids received a lot of discussion, said Marx.

"We spent a good bit of time talking about ... what constitutes a bona fide bid, and how, with hundreds of items, there was no good understanding of what Medicare used in determining whether a specific product had a bona fide bid," said Marx.

Other concerns that were raised include the burdens imposed by Form C and frustration that the Program Advisory and Oversight Committee does not have more input.

GAO officials seemed very open to AAHomecare's portion on the program, said Marx. That doesn't mean the GAO is on the industry's side, however, he said.

"They are trying to be an honest third party," said Marx. "Whether we have their ear? I can't comment."