Industry turns up heat on bid program
WASHINGTON – It was standing room only at a pair of Feb. 6 briefings for congressional staff on the competitive bidding program, but CMS officials offered little in the way of substance, according to industry stakeholders.
“CMS was barraged with questions about the fundamental flaws in the auction design, the median pricing and the impact on small suppliers,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “They gave stock answers about how everything is great—pretty much what you’d expect.”
Meanwhile, stakeholders have been meeting with lawmakers to discuss the newly released Round 2 single payment amounts, which are, on average, 45% lower than the current fee schedule.
Of particular concern is the impact of the cuts on the market-pricing program (MPP), which needs to be budget neutral. It calls for Round 2 payments to remain in place until MPP can be implemented.
“The proposal has some offsets related to Round 2, but the industry feels that the Round 2 prices are bogus and unsustainable,” said Wayne Stanfield, president of NAIMES. “They are unsustainable no matter how they are applied.”
AAHomecare officials last week met with Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., who sponsored H.R. 6490, a bill introduced in the last Congress to replace competitive bidding with MPP.
“He still wants to move forward with MPP and is excited about it,” said Jay Witter, senior director of government affairs.
If there’s any upside to the low payment amounts, it’s that they could galvanize providers to turn up the heat on lawmakers, and for lawmakers, in turn, to press CMS for some real answers on the program, say stakeholders.
“If everything is great, than why all the secrecy?” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “It’s going to be apparent that CMS has manipulated the numbers and manipulated the variables within the methodology.”