Lawmakers support investigation into bid program

Thursday, September 26, 2013

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers from Tennessee and Ohio have written to the Office of Inspector General (OIG), urging the agency to thoroughly investigate Round 2 of competitive bidding in their states.

The OIG recently announced plans for a limited investigation of the program in Tennessee, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio, in light of concerns that CMS granted bids to unlicensed, non-accredited suppliers in those states.

In a Sept. 24 letter, Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, cited language in the CMS request for bids requiring bidders to be licensed, but he noted reports of 80 contract suppliers not licensed in Ohio. He included copies of Ohio’s licensure requirements to aid the investigation.

“These fraudulent bidders may have prevented other legitimate bidders from being offered contracts, and most likely skewed the bid price, polluting the entire contractor selection and bid price calculation process,” Johnson wrote Sept. 24. “I am concerned about the impact of allowing unlicensed/non-registered firms to provide what can be life-sustaining products and services to seniors in the state of Ohio.”

In a Sept. 17 letter, a delegation of Tennessee lawmakers wrote that CMS failed to properly vet 30 suppliers in the state. While the agency voided the contracts in question, it denied needing to add any additional contract suppliers.

“Contrary to Administrator (Marilyn) Tavenner’s previous assurance that the remaining contracted suppliers were capable of caring for all of Tennessee’s Medicare patients affected by the program, CMS began offering additional contracts across multiple product categories less than two months after the implementation of the program, all at the original published single payment amounts,” the letter states. “These actions warrant thorough investigation.”