From: HME News

by: Theresa Flaherty

BALTIMORE – CMS has indicated to key lawmakers that Round 2 payment amounts for competitive bidding will be released by the end of January, according to HME industry stakeholders.

“Signs are pointing that way,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.

Those signs include CMS announcing last week a series of bidding webinars scheduled for Jan. 28 to Feb. 5 for physicians and other practitioners. CMS stated it probably wouldn’t schedule webinars for HME providers until after it announces contract winners this spring.

With the payment amounts already overdue—CMS originally planned to release the amounts in the fall—stakeholders say the July 1 implementation date for Round 2 should be pushed back.

“They need to get it right,” said Johnson. “The delay in the release of the payment amounts backs up the timeframe as far as the contracting phase, and then all the education that needs to take place, with not only the winners, but the referral agents and beneficiaries.”

Meanwhile, stakeholders continue to meet with new and returning lawmakers to build support for replacing competitive bidding with a market-pricing program (MPP). Rep. Tom Price, R. Ga., is expected to reintroduce legislation for MPP soon, they say.

One possible supporter: Rep. Nydia Velasquez, D-N.Y., who on Jan. 3 introduced H.R. 27, a bill to repeal competitive bidding. While the bill is not expected to go anywhere—it contains no offsets or pay-fors—it shows that there is widespread awareness about the program’s impact on small businesses, say stakeholders.

“We are meeting with her staff and thanking them for their understanding and concern, and then asking them to join Dr. Price in passing MPP,” said Jay Witter, senior director of government affairs for AAHomecare.