'The idea is not to get in a fight with CMS'

Thursday, September 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new name popped onto the competitive bidding radar screen during CMS's Open Door Forum last month.

That's when Drew Saelens of Applied Policy asked agency officials when they would be announcing Round 2 information. What's Applied Policy? Saelens' boss, CEO Jim Scott, spoke with HME News about the company's interest in competitive bidding and why it believes the industry needs to play nice with CMS if it wants to get the program revised.

HME News: What does your firm do?

Jim Scott: We do health policy and reimbursement consulting. We mostly work on helping other associations, nonprofits and suppliers navigate CMS and stay on top of health reform information with a bias toward action--not just that these things are happening but what can you do to distinguish yourselves from the competition? We act to some extent as a translator and we really try to get behind the reasons why CMS is doing something. I think that once you get behind those reasons and figure out what CMS's motivation is, you can start to address those issues and provide constructive input.

HME: Why is your firm interested in competitive bidding?

Scott: We represent some suppliers in the DME space. And there's sort of a theme for Medicare to acquire the items and services at the best price for their beneficiaries. 

HME: What do you think of competitive bidding?

Scott: To some extent I think CMS is trying to do the best job that it can. I think that there are some statutory constraints. But it would really be wonderful if there was a more constant stream (of information.) There was the Program Advisory Oversight Committee last April and then it was pretty much silent as these suppliers are trying to plan, and for lots of them, it's whether or not they can stay in business.

HME: What do you think the industry's strategy should be regarding competitive bidding?

Scott: I think the opportunity for suppliers is to work though their associations and work together. The more they can work together, the more influence they'll have if they can achieve consensus about what direction the policy should take. I think that there's opportunity to work together to find a win-win solution. The idea is not to get in a fight with CMS--in general, we've found that when you have a good point, CMS isn't resistant to considering it. So it's just a matter of presenting it in a way that doesn't start off as confrontational.