VGM applies to bid as NCB network

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

WATERLOO, Iowa - All the industry's major provider organizations have plans to help their members form networks to participate in competitive bidding, but in September The VGM Group put its money where its mouth is.
VGM has submitted an application to become a "network primary supplier," officially kicking off the paperwork process required for its members to form and bid as a network. In the process, VGM formed a new entity, Homecare Providers of America.
"We're really doing it," said Jim Walsh, president of VGM Management. "We're not just saying we're doing it."
Even though CMS hasn't revealed what products it will competitively bid or in what 10 metropolitan statistical areas or MSAs, VGM moved forward with its plan to form a network to make sure its ready for the 2007 kick-off for competitive bidding, officials said.
To support its network, VGM has also developed software applications that will allow its members to bill and receive payments as one group. VGM already uses similar applications to bill managed care and other private payers through its existing respiratory and rehab networks, Walsh said.
"(With the software applications), members would bill somewhat like branches of a larger company do," he said.
Because so much of competitive bidding is still up in the air, VGM doesn't quite have a handle yet on how many of its members are interested in forming a network, Walsh said.
"It's a complicated relationship," he said. "Right now, our members are telling us, 'We don't know how to do it; help us.' But as they learn more, they may want to bid by themselves. If that's the case--great. We just want to help them in any way we can."