Who's smoke screening whom?


The top stories in the NAIMES and VGM e-mail bulletins on April 20 had the following headline:

"CMS Smoke Screen - Talks of Delay of Round 2, But Then Moves Forward"

They then go on to say:

"CMS is feeling the pressure from Congress about the growing problems with competitive bidding, but instead of dealing with fatal flaws of the program, the Agency has chosen to deflect and distract attention. At the recent Medicare Program Advisory and Oversight Committee (PAOC) meeting, CMS officials alluded to a six month delay in the implementation of Round 2. Soon after, CMS clarified its position and indicated it is moving forward with the additional 91 sites."

Huh? Am I missing something here?

It's my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong here, that CMS has shifted its timeline for Round 2 of competitive bidding forward six months. That means instead of implementing Round 2 on Jan. 1, 2013, as it originally planned, CMS plans to implement Round 2 some time in the summer of that year.

That is a delay. Right?

But did anyone really think that because CMS was shifting its timeline for Round 2 forward six months that it wasn't moving forward with the program?

A delay is not a repeal. Didn't the industry learn that lesson when it succeeded in getting Congress to delay competitive bidding 18 to 24 months in 2008, only to have CMS re-start a slightly-modified program in 2010?

And to say CMS is delaying Round 2 not to make structural changes to the program but to "deflect or distract attention" sounds like a conspiracy theory at best.

I get what NAIMES and VGM are doing. They're trying to fire up providers to continue lobbying for H.R. 1041, a bill to repeal competitive bidding. Like they also said in their e-mail bulletins, competitive bidding will be expanded to 91 additional areas in 43 states sooner than they think. The industry has been trying to repeal competitive bidding for several years and with CMS getting started on Round 2 this summer, they're running out of time.

NAIMES and VGM do an excellent job of disseminating information to providers, and their hearts are in the right place.

But there's no need to be sensational.

Liz Beaulieu