Senate companion bill introduced

Thursday, December 4, 2014

WASHINGTON – Senators Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., today introduced a bill that seeks to improve Medicare’s competitive bidding program.

The Competitive Bidding Improvement Act, a companion bill to H.R. 4920, has three key components: Providers need to prove they are licensed before they submit bids; bidders would be required to obtain bid bonds; and bonds will be forfeited if the bidder declines the contract and was at or below the bid price.

“Because of loopholes in the Medicare bidding process, speculative bidders were allowed to game the system,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare, in a release. “This bill will help restore accountability, alleviate artificially low prices and deter unlicensed providers.”

The bidding program has been plagued with issues such as unlicensed providers winning contracts, contracts being awarded to companies located hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of miles from the bid area, and bidders submitting low-ball bids and then not accepting contracts.

“Providing strong financial incentives for bidders to honor their bids, and having an outside third party financially vet bidders will significantly strengthen the Medicare bidding program,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations at Invacare.

H.R. 4920, introduced June 19 by Reps. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, and John Larson, D-Conn., currently has 64 co-sponsors, including Rep. Mark, Amodei, R-Nev., who signed on Dec. 2.