Senate Finance leaders urge delay of bid pricing

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee leaders have asked CMS to delay applying the next round of Medicare reimbursement cuts in rural areas.

In an April 18 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., express their concerns that six months isn’t long enough to detect and correct problems with the rollout of competitive bidding to non-bid areas.

“It is unlikely that CMS will be able to monitor, analyze, and make any necessary changes prior to July 1, 2016,” the letter states. “The ability of the real-time claims monitoring that CMS uses for items provided in competitive bidding areas to assess the short-term impact of the DMEPOS fee schedule rate reduction in non-competitive bidding areas is questionable.”

CMS started rolling out bid pricing to non-bid areas on Jan. 1. It plans to complete the transition on July 1.

The letter also calls for CMS to monitor changes in the percentage of HME providers accepting Medicare business since Jan. 1, and provide information on beneficiary complaints in those areas.

In March, Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.C., introduced S. 2736, a bill to delay the cuts until at Oct. 1, 2017. It currently has 19 co-sponsors.

Industry stakeholders are working to secure a Democratic co-sponsor for a companion bill in the House of Representatives.