Vents, braces in for Round 2021

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Monday, March 11, 2019

WASHINGTON – CMS on Thursday afternoon announced its plans for Round 2021 of its competitive bidding program, including 16 product categories.

Among the new products that will be included in the program: non-invasive ventilators, and off-the-shelf knee and back braces.

"Respiratory suppliers, patient groups, clinicians and caregivers shared hundreds of comments with CMS detailing how including non-invasive ventilators in the bidding program will negatively impact the vulnerable patient groups who depend on these life-support systems," said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. "It’s clear that we need to rally the ventilator supplier and patient community to significantly raise the volume on this issue with the Administration, on Capitol Hill, and in the media. Judging from the many suppliers and clinical stakeholders I’ve heard from on this issue since yesterday afternoon, there are a lot of individuals and organizations who will be ready to make sure policymakers understand the impacts of CMS’s action."

CMS says it has shifted some items to different, smaller product categories to accommodate the lead-item pricing methodology. The categories are:

  • Commode chairs
  • CPAP devices and RADs
  • Enteral nutrition
  • Beds
  • Nebulizers
  • NPWT pumps
  • Non-invasive vents
  • OTS back braces
  • OTS knee braces
  • Oxygen and oxygen equipment
  • Patient lifts and seat lifts
  • Standard manual wheelchairs
  • Standard power mobility devices
  • Support surfaces (Groups 1 and 2)
  • TENS devices
  • Walkers


As for competitive bidding areas, CMS says it is consolidating CBAs that were included in Round 1 2017 and Round 2 Recompete, conducting Round 2021 in the same geographic areas for a total of 130 CBAs.

The agency also outlined changes to the program related to lead-item pricing, single payment amounts and bid surety bonds.

"We are pleased to see that CMS is making more details available on the 2021 competitive bidding round, and that SPA methodology changes and surety bond provisions AAHomecare has championed are part of the program," Ryan said. "Nonetheless, the Association remains committed to advocating for additional long-term reimbursement relief for suppliers outside of competitive bidding areas and addressing unsustainable oxygen reimbursement rates in these areas, as well."

CMS says it plans to announce specific dates for registration and bidding, and begin bidder education in May. It plans to begin the bidder registration period and open the bid window in June.

CMS suggests that providers interested in participating in the program get bonded, get licensed and get accredited.