Industry opens up multiple fronts against bid program
WASHINGTON – With a new bill for the market-pricing program (MPP) expected to drop soon, industry stakeholders are mulling another legislative tactic in the fight against competitive bidding: a delay in the implementation of Round 2.
Congress has mandated CMS to implement Round 2 in 2013—but not necessarily on July 1. Stakeholders are working with members of Congress to create legislation that would delay the program’s start date until the end of the year.
“We’re using this delay as a tactic to advance the ultimate goal, which is passage of the market-pricing program,” says Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility.
Stakeholders say a delay would also give Congress an opportunity to investigate concerns related to the recently announced payment amounts for Round 2, which are, on average, 45% below the current fee schedule.
Because the legislation would still allow CMS to implement Round 2 in 2013 (Dec. 31 vs. July 1), stakeholders say it wouldn’t need a pay-for, something that’s palatable to the industry and Congress alike.
“It is the opinion of members of Congress that this delay should not generate a cost,” says Jay Witter, vice president of government affairs at AAHomecare.
Adding fuel to the industry’s efforts: On March 18, AMEPA re-launched a White House petition to replace competitive bidding with MPP. At press time, the petition was nearing 4,000 signatures, but it needs 100,000 signatures by April 18 to gain a response from President Obama.
In addition, a bipartisan letter sent to CMS last week, led by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., and co-signed by 100 lawmakers, called into question the competitive bidding program. The letter addressed the severe cuts in Round 2, the potential negative consequences for patient access, and the lack of transparency on the part of CMS.
“CMS will have to address it, or they should address it,” says Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. “It’s possible that letter could generate a lot of pressure.”