House bid bill drops

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

WASHINGTON – A House bill that would lessen the impact of competitive bid pricing in non-bid areas was introduced today.

Led by Reps. Tom Price, R-Ga., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., H.R. 4185 contains several provisions. Chief among those provisions: it would apply a 30% increase to single payment amounts for providers in non-bid areas; and phase in the pricing over a two-year period, compared to the current six months.

Other provisions include setting a ceiling for future rounds of competitive bidding at the unadjusted fee schedule rates in effect Jan. 1, 2015; and instructing CMS to revisit pricing adjustments for non-bid areas to take into account travel distance, clearing price and other associated costs for prices that will be in effect Jan. 1, 2019.

"This bill is a life line for rural providers adn the patients they serve," said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group in a release. "It's a common sense approach to stop the devastation of rural health care by a poorly devised and thought out bureaucratic program."

The provisions are similar to those included in a Senate version of the bill, S. 2312, which was introduced Nov. 19 by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

One big difference between the two bills: the House bill contains a provision that would implement a market pricing program demonstration project. The 10-site demo will include the same DME items as the competitive bidding program, require binding bids, weigh historic capacity of the bidders, and determine the price based on the clearing price.

A separate auction will take place in two states for diabetes testing supplies.