CMS downplays vent concerns

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Thursday, October 24, 2019

WASHINGTON – CMS says it has safeguards in place to protect beneficiary access to non-invasive ventilators during Round 2021 of competitive bidding.

The statement is in response to the 180 members of the House of Representatives who signed a letter asking the agency to drop non-invasive vents from the program.

“The response fails to address the central tenets of the House sign-on letter, including the idea that ‘adequacy of Medicare payment for critical services like home ventilation care is paramount’ and that CMS has not previously included items requiring frequent and substantial servicing in the bid program,” AAHomecare stated in a bulletin to members.

Other safeguards cited by CMS: making sure suppliers meet quality standards and requiring them to provide service 24 hours a day.

Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., who spearheaded the sign-on letter in the House, again made the case for keeping non-invasive vents out of the bid program during a hearing on healthcare policy by the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee on Oct. 23.

“I support the goal of ensuring financial responsibility in health care but I’m not convinced this method is appropriate in every situation,” he said. “Until we know that access to a critical piece of medical equipment won’t be compromised, I don’t think we should be making monumental changes to the acquisition process.”

Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also spearheaded a similar letter in the Senate with 38 signatures.

CMS announced in March that non-invasive vents were one of the 16 product categories included in Round 2021. The bid window for this most recent round of the program closed Sept. 18.