Senator presses CMS on bidding

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON – Industry champion Sen. John Thune recently asked CMS officials if six months is long enough to monitor the impact of rolling out competitive bid pricing nationwide.

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing Jan. 21, Thune, R-S.D., asked CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt how CMS is monitoring the roll out and whether or not the agency would consider extending the current phase-in period beyond July 1.

“We have the absolute authority, when we see access issues, to step in and prevent them,” replied Slavitt. “So, we can’t let the goals of this program, which I think are noble and are good for our budget, get in the way of common sense when we run into those issues, so we have hopefully been responsive along the way.”

Thune then asked, “Do you think six months is long enough?”

Slavitt: “We should not assume that six months is going to be enough until we work though it. Candidly, I want to see the data from our team that’s doing the monitoring and understand the impact, and if we believe that we are going too fast, then we will slow down.”

On Jan. 1, Medicare began paying for HME in regional and rural areas based on a 50/50 blend of the current fee schedule and adjusted rates from its competitive bidding program. On July 1, it will base pricing only on adjusted rates.

Thune in November introduced a bill that would require a two-year phase-in period for the national rollout. It currently has 20 co-sponsors.