Legal roundup, COVID edition

A bid program in question, a technology pushed to the forefront
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Friday, May 29, 2020

AMARILLO, Texas – With Round 2021 a wild card, health care attorney Jeff Baird is advising his clients to hold off on making any serious financial decisions for as long as possible.

CMS’s latest round of competitive bidding is due to start Jan. 1, with payment amounts announced this summer and contract suppliers announced this fall, but industry stakeholders are trying to make the case to the agency that the bids they submitted last fall are outdated.

“It’s really difficult to see how competitive bidding could be implemented on Jan. 1 because of all the disruptions in the marketplace,” said Baird, chairman of the Health Care Group at Brown & Fortunato. “But right now, we have DME companies trying to figure out whether or not come Jan. 1, they’re going to be dealing with competitive bidding.”

Providers reported equipment delays and increased product costs, among other disruptions, due to the pandemic in a recent AAHomecare survey.

Baird says a provider that didn’t submit bids, for example, might be planning to cut costs and retool their business, expecting that they will no longer be able to serve Medicare beneficiaries on Jan. 1. But what if Round 2021 is delayed?

“I’m advising that client, ‘Sure, go ahead and do that, but, man, do your best not to pull the trigger for as long as possible,’ until we know what’s happening,” he said.

In addition to whether or not Round 2021 will take off, providers are trying to figure out their role in the growing remote patient monitoring market, now that CMS has relaxed a number of regulations around caring for patients remotely, Baird says.

“Remote patient monitoring is a good thing—and a big deal,” he said.

Providers who want in on the remote patient monitoring market need to invest in the devices and software that provide those capabilities, Baird says.

“You have Medicare and, I believe, commercial insurers who are willing to pay so much per patient per month for monitoring and it’s a lot of money coming in to doctor,” he said, “and they can share some of that with the companies that are providing the devices and software. There’s this cash stream.”