Industry 'up in the air' over NCB

Friday, September 30, 2005

BALTIMORE - CMS still had not released a draft of its national competitive bidding program by mid- September, but industry sources predicted it was on the way.
The draft was supposed to be the focal point of Program Advisory and Oversight Committee's Sept. 26-27 meeting with CMS. But with supplier standards and accredition also on tap, the PAOC should have plenty to discuss even if a draft NCB program isn't released by meeting time.
"They said before that the meeting would occur after the rule was published," said attorney Asela Cuervo, who is a PAOC member. "It's in clearance right now."
Whether the draft of the national competitive bidding program was published before the meeting or not, it's a sure bet that PAOC members would have something to say about bidding, said David Kazynski, president of VGM's Homelink division and a PAOC member.
Exactly what direction the discussion might take is "really kind of up in the air," Kazynski said. He knows this for sure, however: If CMS is stalling on national competitive bidding, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"I don't think it's causing any problems," he said. "If it's delayed, as far as we're concerned, it's a good thing. But if they are going to move forward with something, we want to make sure they do it right and in a way that's least damaging to the industry."
Concerns surrounding accreditation's role in competitive bidding will likely focus on the need for diversity among accrediting organizations, said Bill Popomaronis, vice president of long term care and home healthcare pharmacy services for the National Community Pharmacists Association and a PAOC member.
"We have the big three," he said, referring to JCAHO, CHAP and ACHC. "And they're excellent in what they do, but if accreditation is going to be the law of the land, accrediting organizations need to have more competition, too."
The Compliance Team and Healthcare Quality Association Accreditation also provide or plan to provide accreditation to HMEs.
Kazynski also pointed out there are concerns whether the existing accrediting organizations can meet demand -- and fast enough.
Though the devil is in the details, discussions concerning accreditation are expected to go smoothly, Kazynski said.
"The whole quality piece of this was beat to death the first couple of meetings, which is a good thing," he said. "I don't think anybody on the committee is going to have anything negative to say about accreditation."
Popomaronis said he's also interested in hearing how smaller providers will be able to compete.