Stakeholders meet with CMS on bid program

They expect additional info to be released in next few months
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Friday, January 11, 2019

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders are focusing on CMS as they seek their footing in a bumpy start to the 116th Congress.

With Congress embroiled in shutdown negotiations, stakeholders continue to work with CMS to help shape the next round of competitive bidding, including the product categories.

“Discrete product categories and making sure like products are grouped together is really important,” said Cara Bachenheimer, chair of the government affairs practice at Brown & Fortunato, who, along with representatives from AAHomecare, met with CMS last week. “And then we’ve got all the other issues with the bidding program, like capacity, bona fide bids, licensure. We are putting together recommendations.”

As to when CMS will start releasing information on the next round of bidding, it’s anybody’s guess, but Bachenheimer anticipates it will be sooner rather than later.

“We are guessing within the next month or two, we will start to see CMS’s initial announcements about schedules of when things will be happening,” she said. “CMS had indicated they are committed to education, because this is such a different bidding process.”

With the government shutdown heading into a fourth week, there’s not a lot getting done in Congress, so stakeholders say it’s too soon to predict when any new HME-related legislation, including a new version of H.R. 4229, could get introduced. That bill, which would have delayed a second round of reimbursement cuts, garnered 158 co-sponsors.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us identifying what are the priorities and who are the champions that will carry the torch for us,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM.

In addition to the chaos of the shutdown, there are many new faces on Capitol Hill. Many committee assignments haven’t been identified yet, and newly elected lawmakers are still staffing their offices.

“That’s a big deal—that’s where we make a lot of our progress,” said Gordon Barnes, director of communications for AAHomecare. “A lot of things are still in flux with staffers and new people. It’s a challenge for everybody.”