Providers cheer bid delay

‘It needs to be replaced with a whole new program that actually works,’ wrote one respondent to recent HME Newspoll
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Friday, February 17, 2017

YARMOUTH, Maine – CMS’s recent decision to temporarily delay Round 2019 of competitive bidding has given HME providers a ray of hope that substantive changes will be made to the program.

The agency said it was delaying Round 2019 to give the new administration—not only President Donald Trump but also recently confirmed HHS Secretary Tom Price—time to review the program.

“Dr. Price has a history of being a champion for our industry,” wrote Bruce Sandler of Wishing U Well Medical in Granada Hills, Calif., in response to a recent HME Newspoll. “I’m confident he’ll come up with a plan to alter or replace competitive bidding. Delaying competitive bidding as it stands, in the meantime, is a good idea. It will save a lot of companies a lot of time and money.”

An overwhelming majority of respondents to the poll (90%) said they approve CMS’s decision to temporarily delay Round 2019.

While providers acknowledge that the delay is likely a standard move in response to a new administration, they also believe that years of access issues created by competitive bidding are finally getting through to CMS.

“I feel that bidding has been delayed because too many providers have either dropped out of Medicare altogether or stopped taking assignment,” said Paul Reses of Lincoln Medical Supply in Pleasantville, N.J. “It is too difficult for discharge planners to coordinate care, and I feel that consumer complaints and industry complaints are maybe starting to be heard.”

Providers do give CMS some credit for making changes to competitive bidding along the way. Planned changes for Round 2019 include moving the bid ceiling to 2015 fee schedule amounts and requiring bidders to obtain a $50,000 surety bond for each competitive bidding area in which they submit bids

“CMS has recently made some big changes to the program, but it still has problems, like lack of access due to low rates, too few providers and audit threats,” wrote one provider. “They’ve temporarily delayed the program because it needs to be replaced with a whole new program that actually works.”

There are those, of course, that wish the whole idea of competitive bidding would go away.

“Don’t just delay the program,” wrote one provider. “Put a stake in its heart, garlic around its neck and bury it in the CMS Hall of Shame.”

Providers acknowledge, however, that CMS will likely be back on track with competitive bidding, in one form another, before too long.

“I’m not reading too much into the delay,” wrote one provider.

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