Stakeholders to lawmakers: Talk bidding during meetings

Friday, April 5, 2013

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders are angling to use the upcoming confirmation hearing of CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner as a platform to voice their concerns about competitive bidding.

A portion of Tavenner’s confirmation hearing, set for Tuesday, April 9, involves face-to-face meetings with members of the Senate Finance Committee, who scheduled the hearing.

“Each senator has a chance, in a closed-door way, to sit down with the nominee and go through the issues that are priorities,” says Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations at Invacare.

Unlike her predecessor, Don Berwick, Tavenner has broad bipartisan support in Congress, including from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., according to news reports.

Stakeholders hope that, through committee members, they can pressure CMS to be more transparent about competitive bidding, including how the agency calculated the Round 1 and 2 payment amounts.

“The process is so secretive, and it shouldn’t be this way,” says Jay Witter, vice president of government affairs at AAHomecare. “It should be more open—we’re looking for definite answers.”

It won’t be the first time Tavenner hears concerns about competitive bidding. Witter met with Tavenner in December and he said the meeting was positive.

“The senators are going to indicate concerns with the competitive bidding process, and also talk about the benefits of the market-pricing program,” Witter said.