Industry aims to 'expose' problems with competitive bidding

Thursday, August 19, 2010

WASHINGTON - If competitive bidding kicks off on Jan. 1, 2011, as planned, industry stakeholders hope to have a reporting mechanism in place that will allow patients and referral sources to detail the expected wreck created in the program's wake.

"People aren't going to know about or understand the resulting reduction in services and other problems unless they're exposed," said David Petsch, managing director of CSIHME, one of the groups working to develop a reporting mechanism. "And if you don't know what the negative effects of the program are, how do you make good decisions about how to address them?"

CSIHME, along with NAIMES, has made developing some type of reporting mechanism part of a five-pronged plan of attack to repeal competitive bidding or, if that doesn't work out, to raise awareness of the program's weaknesses.

While the reporting mechanism is still in the discussion phase, Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES, envisions a website--something like patients and referral sources can log on to and report their problems.

"We're talking about all sorts of concepts, like allowing a user to put in his zip code and, after sharing his problem, it gets sent directly to the congressman for that zip code," he said.

Industry stakeholders expect problems to run the gamut from patients being forced to sever ties with their long-standing HME providers to nursing homes delaying discharges for days due to the untimely availability of equipment to referral sources having to call three different HME providers to arrange for three different pieces of equipment.

The goal is to have the reporting mechanism in place some time in September, giving industry stakeholders three months to promote it with providers in the nine competitive bidding areas.

"We want to be able to tell them, here's a brochure with the website address for your patients and referral sources--push it out," Stanfield said. "Tell anyone who will listen: If you encounter a problem due to competitive bidding, here's how you can report those problems."

CSIHME and NAIMES are in discussions with other groups to make the reporting mechanism an industry-wide initiative.

AAHomecare already has a submission form on its website that allows providers to report problems with competitive bidding. (Go to (

"We are trying to collect examples--providers hear an awful lot about what's going on and who's won bids, etc.," said Walt Gorski, the association's vice president of government affairs. "We believe it's critical to provide oversight as best we can at this stage to show areas of weakness or errors in the process."