Watchdog group tries new tactic in bidding fight

CRE: What's method behind CMS's madness?
Friday, January 25, 2013

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders aren’t the only group still trying to put a halt to the competitive bidding program.

Watchdog group The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) on Dec. 19 filed the first of several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking information about the methodology behind the bidding program. Although CMS has discretion over the design of the program, the law requires the agency to use a commonly accepted auction method—something it hasn’t done, says Bruce Levinson, senior vice president of regulatory intervention for the CRE.

“The idea is not that you can’t do competitive bidding, but that it has to be done right,” he said. “As a result of the poor model, the (pricing) data that is coming out is not reliable or accurate, and does not reflect a competitive price.”

Previous attempts by various stakeholders seeking bidding program data have been met with resistance by CMS, which has been criticized for its lack of transparency with the program.

Using information gathered from its FOIA requests, the CRE ultimately plans to file a Data Quality Act petition against CMS. The act requires federal agencies to use accepted scientific methods when making regulations.

“Nothing else has worked,” said Levinson. “CMS has not been willing to reform their program or modify their methodology.”

CMS had 60 days to respond to the request.