From: Modern Healthcare

By Jaimy Lee

The CMS said it is expanding its competitive-bidding program for durable medical equipment to include eight new categories, including wheelchairs, hospital beds, and oxygen equipment and supplies.
The second round of the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies Competitive Bidding Program will be conducted in 91 metropolitan areas, according to a CMS news release.

The new prices are expected to go into effect in July 2013.

“Medicare is paying much more than the private sector for equipment like wheelchairs and walkers,” CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick said in a statement. “By expanding our successful competitive-bidding program, we can ensure that Medicare pays a fair rate for these goods.”

The CMS’ first round of the competitive-bidding program for nine product areas launched Jan. 1. According to a news release, competitive bidding for these products has introduced savings of 35% as compared to the fee schedule.

The five other categories in the second round include enteral nutrients and equipment; continuous positive airway pressure and respiratory assist devices; walkers; support services, such as Group 2 mattresses and overlays; and negative pressure wound therapy pumps.

The products listed in the eight new categories are considered high-cost, high-volume products with a “large savings potential,” according to the CMS.

The CMS issued a final rule in 2007 that aimed to introduce a competitive bidding process and move away from a fee schedule.