Industry intel: CMS to announce bid amounts next week

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BALTIMORE - CMS won't announce winning bid amounts for Round 1.2 of competitive bidding today as was expected, but the agency still plans to make an announcement in June, according to industry stakeholders.

That leaves Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

"We're hearing that they will release the amounts no later than June 30," said Seth Johnson, vice president of government relations for Pride Mobility Products.

When CMS outlined its timeline for competitive bidding, it indicated that it would announce winning bid amounts in June, but an "Inside Health Policy" report indicated it would be June 25.

The Accredited Medical Equipment Providers Association (AMEPA) reported earlier today that it didn't expect CMS to announce winning bid amounts, based on conversations that President Rob Brant had with a representative at the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) and staffers in the office of Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., sponsor of H.R. 3790, a bill to repeal the program.

Johnson, AAHomecare and The VGM Group all received the same intelligence, they said.

A delay of a few days probably won't have much of an impact on CMS's timeline for rolling out competitive bidding, stakeholders say.

"Deadlines slip," said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. "I wouldn't read anything into this."

Brant's only concern: If CMS waits until the end of June to announce winning bid amounts, it may wait until the end of September to announce winning bidders. That leaves the industry little time to provide their side of the story to members of Congress before they go on break Oct. 8.

"Having the bid winners made public is what helped us get the program delayed the first time around," he said.

When the winning bid amounts do come out, the industry needs to be ready to counterattack, stakeholders said.

"CMS is going to be touting the savings associated with this program," Gorski said. "But we clearly have credibility on this issue. Even CMS admits that the fundamentals of the program haven't changed. Why would anything be different?"

H.R. 3790 has 251 co-sponsors.