NCB: Still a mystery

Sunday, December 18, 2005

BALTIMORE - CMS officials said at an Open Door Forum on Thursday that they would release a national competitive bidding package "fairly soon." But when a caller asked if that meant the agency would release the proposal before the end of the year, officials failed to provide further details.

Officials said CMS and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) were still fine-tuning the proposal's policies.

"We are going to be posting on the DMEPOS competitive bidding Web site exactly when it will be published," said a CMS official. "We have a better idea. We will also have a PAOC meeting where we will be giving some background on the reg when it is published. We'll be posting that information on the Web site, as well."

Congress' Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) requires CMS to kick off competitive bidding in 10 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in 2007. Because the agency hasn't released its proposal yet, industry sources predict CMS won't implement NCB until well into 2007.

Also at the forum:
-- CMS officials said they would look into provider complaints that the physicians they're working with on power wheelchair claims aren't getting reimbursed. Per CMS's interim final rule (IFR), doctors receive $21 for providing suppliers with prescriptions and medical records.
-- Officials noted that the comment period for the DMERC local coverage determinations (LCDs) has passed. The DMERCs won't release finalized policies, however, until new mobility codes are released.
-- Officials said CMS still plans to release its finalized quality supplier standards in spring 2006.