What is competitive bidding?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

BALTIMORE – When it comes to explaining national competitive bidding to referral sources and to beneficiaries, CMS officials are intent on making amends for Round 1 snafus.

In a nod toward the confusion that reigned during the quickly aborted program last summer —and this fall’s approaching rebid—Martha Kuespert, a CMS senior technical advisor, said:  “One of the key lessons we learned from the short program implementation in 2008 was the need to begin outreach to beneficiaries, partners and referral agents well in advance of the program implementation.”

Kuespert and other key CMS officials took part in a Webinar yesterday entitled: “DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program: An Overview for the Referral Community.”

About 90 people participated in the Webinar, and if one thing seems clear, it’s that, when it comes to education, CMS has its work cut out.

The presentation began with a power point presentation that included the slide “What is DMEPOS?” And during the question and answer period, one person asked: “What is DMEPOS competitive bidding and how does it affect me?”

Here are the other questions and CMS’s answers:

–    Will West Palm Peach County be included in next round of NCB? “We are trying to replicate as much as possible for the rebid the same areas that we bid in the original Round 1,” said Walt Rutemueller, CMS technical advisor.

–    Will the competitive bidding program affect rural areas? Not immediately. Bidding will not begin in rural areas until 2015.

–    Do beneficiaries have to change doctors as part of the program? No.

–    How does the new payment method work? The amount Medicare will pay for medical equipment in the competitive bid areas will be based on bids submitted by suppliers to Medicare.

–    How do beneficiaries find out if the specific equipment or supplies they need are included in the competitive bidding program? Call 1-800-medicare (1-800-633-4227) or visit www.medicare.gov. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

–    Some beneficiaries don’t have computers; how will they find out which supplier to use? Call 1-800-medicare (1-800-633-4227); TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. It’s important to note, that the rebid won’t be implemented until January 2011. More information will be provided during a comprehensive education campaign for beneficiaries, referral agents and partners that will start in the fall of 2010.