Home Care Magazine

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Budget Office has set the 10-year cost to repeal competitive bidding at $20 billion, the American Association for Homecare reported late Friday.

According to the AAHomecare update:

“This latest savings attributed to the bidding program is based on the bid results from the new Round 1. The $20 billion compares to [the] $9.6 billion savings figure that the CBO had calculated based on the initial bids offered in 2008. The savings the CBO calculates the bidding program will generate is the same amount congressional offices will assume must be offset in any effort to repeal the program.”

H.R. 3790, the bill the industry is backing to repeal the bidding program, would replace it instead with a series of reimbursement cuts and other measures. But introduced last fall, the bill’s pay-fors were based on the CBO’s original $9.6 billion figure — and under Congress’ pay-go rules, the proposed legislation must be budget-neutral.

Still reeling from recently announced Round 1 bid rates that average a 32 percent cut, some stakeholders had doubts the industry could afford to pay its way out of the $17 billion CMS has now estimated Medicare would save over 10 years from the bid program.

The new CBO score is higher still.

“AAHomecare is evaluating the impact of this latest information from CBO but it is clear that the $20 billion figure highlights more than ever the need for greater transparency in CMS’s determination of the current bid rates,” the Friday afternoon update continued. “The Association has significant concerns that CMS has relied upon illegitimate bids and has offered contracts to some unsound providers and they are using the results of a faulty process to help stoke the savings that CBO has calculated for the bidding program.

“AAHomecare believes it is imperative that CMS release the list of providers, product categories, and corresponding competitive bidding areas for those bids that were used to determine the single payment amounts in the nine bidding areas. Only then will the home care industry and Congress be able to assess the validity of the newest CBO finding.”