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Jonathan Blum: A man you wouldn't want to play poker with

Jonathan Blum: A man you wouldn't want to play poker with

All the buzz on the Hill today: Jonathan Blum is leaving his post as director and principal deputy administrator of CMS.

Blum, as those in the HME industry are well aware, has been the face of CMS's competitive bidding program. During his five-year tenure, we've seen the program grow from nine to 100 cities.  We've also seen the agency put the wheels in motion to expand the program nationwide in 2016.

In an internal memo, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said Blum's accomplishments were “too many to list” but include the introduction of competitive bidding for medical supply purchases.

Blum is off to pursue “new opportunities.” His last day is May 16.

Provider Gary Sheehan had this to say about Blum's departure on twitter: “This is good news: Man responsible for horrific implementation of bidding program leaving CMS.”

I'm sure that tweet got more than a few re-tweets.

In honor of Blum's tenure at CMS, here are a few memorable quotes about or from him that have appeared in HME News:

“He made it very clear to all of us that he feels competitive bidding is a great thing and it's doing what it's supposed to do: Patients are getting what they need and providers aren't getting hurt,” said provider Patrick Naeger in 2012 after Blum attended a town hall-style meeting at the Washington County Memorial Hospital in Potosi, Mo.

“He did ask for suggestions for how to make it better,” said Sean Schwinghammer, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Home Care Services, in 2011 after Blum visited Orlando, a Round 1 competitive bidding area. “He seemed really intrigued by some points. Still, I would never want to play poker with the man.”

“We take the PAOC (Program Advisory Oversight Committee) very seriously and we've learned from the past,” Blum told attendees of the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference in 2010. “The online bidding system is smoother, and we are not aware of any significant concerns.”

“This shows us that we can see dramatic savings while also assuring that we continue to have the local presence and the small business presence to give us great confidence that beneficiaries continue to have choice of DME supplier,” Blum said during a conference call in 2013 to announce the payment amounts for Round 2.

“The tracking work we've done to date has given us great confidence that we can expand the program rapidly to more parts of the country,” Blum said in 2012 during a conference call to announce a “recompete” of Round 1.

“All of the contracted suppliers are currently in good standing with Medicare,” Blum said in 2010 about the Round 1 contract suppliers. “They meet state licensure requirements; they meet re-enrollment requirements, quality and financial standards; and they are accredited.”


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