Ready or not: NCB registration begins

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BALTIMORE – CMS officials walked HME providers through the “easy” process of registering for national competitive bidding in the first of eight Special Open Door Forums yesterday.

“The process should take about 10 minutes to complete,” said Cindy Dreher, content and policy lead for the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC).

Providers must register to get the user IDs and passwords that they’ll need to submit bids Oct. 21. CMS says it will mail the user IDs and passwords to providers within 10 business days.

An authorized official (AO), designated by the provider, must register by Sept. 14. Backup authorized officials (BAOs) and end users (EUs) must also register to assist AOs. BAOs should register by Oct. 4; EUs by Nov. 4. (A light-hearted note on all the new acronyms: “I know it gets confusing,” Dreher told one listener. “I feel like I’m singing Old McDonald or something.”)

Registration closes Nov. 4 at 9 p.m. EST.

CMS officials emphasized that each AO must register one NSC number. For a provider network, he must use the primary provider’s NSC number. For a provider with multiple locations and multiple NSC numbers, he must pick one NSC number. For a provider that’s commonly owned and/or controlled and has multiple NSC numbers, he must pick one NSC number.

There is one exception. When a provider owns two or more locations that furnish different product lines and don’t compete, the AO must register separate NSC numbers. Drefer offered the following example: A provider has four locations in the Kansas City competitive bidding area, and three are HMEs that provide oxygen and one is a pharmacy that provides enteral nutrition. The HMEs aren’t licensed to provide enteral, and the pharmacy isn’t licensed to provide oxygen. The provider wants to submit bids for oxygen and enteral.

“The AO is going to register one time with two NSC numbers,” she said. “Essentially, what you’re doing is creating two bid applications. If you registered only one NSC number, then your pharmacy location would be required to bid on oxygen and the DME location would be required to bid on enteral.”

When registering, providers must make sure the 855S enrollment forms on file with the NSC are up to date, including the legal names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of their AOs and BAOs.

The AOs, BAOs and EUs have the following roles:

•    AOs update information in the Individuals Authorized Access to the CMS Computer Services (IACS) system, approve or reject requests for access, approve Form A and certify Form B. They’re also responsible for the actions of BAOs and EUs

•    BAOs, which must be listed as an AO on the 855S form, perform many of the same roles as AOs. They also enter information into the DMEPOS Bidding System (DBidS) and approve or reject the EUs request for access. There may be more than one BAO.

•    EUs, which don’t have to be listed on the 855S form, may enter information into DBidS, but they can’t approve or certify forms. There may be more than one EU, but only one EU at a time may enter info into DBidS.

No user can remove another user. If only an AO is registered, he can remove himself. If an AO and BAO are registered, providers must call customer service (877-577-5331). BAOs and EUs can remove themselves.

CMS officials have already received a few calls from providers trying to register that don’t know what to put in the “justification action field.” Officials advised providers to write a short narrative on why they’re registering. They said it’s as simple as: “Will enter bid data into DBidS.”

To register, go to the CBIC Web site: Call 877-577-5331 with questions.