Monday, January 31, 2005

Bring on the standards
with Asela Cuervo
A. Cuervo

Q. What impact will the development of quality standards have on competitive bidding?

A. In the ongoing dialogue between the PAOC and CMS there appears to be a general consensus that the development and implementation of quality standards is important. Industry representatives would like the discussion on the development of standards expanded and accelerated. The standards are based on an understanding that the HME community does more than drop equipment off in patients’ homes. All DME items require appropriate service to ensure that the beneficiary uses them effectively, and it is not possible to design a competitive bidding program without first understanding what is required of suppliers under the new standards. Competitive bidding is not only about equipment.

There are important reasons for CMS to develop quality standards well in advance of implementing competitive bidding. The timing for the development of standards is critical because suppliers must have adequate time to implement them before competitive bidding begins. Ensuring uniform standards also protects beneficiaries. This is important given that their options for choosing suppliers will be limited under national competitive bidding. Having uniform standards also enables the Medicare program to make a direct comparison of supplier bids. This makes the process fair for all competing suppliers who must adhere to the same standards in order to submit bids.

Asela Cuervo is the principal in the Law Offices of Asela Cuervo in Washington, DC. 202-496-1281.