From: HomeCare Magazine

    American Association for Homecare members expressed continued frustration over competitive bidding while meeting at Medtrade last week with an ombudsman representing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services bidding program. Members cited problems with rules governing repair and replacement, grandfathering, physician medical necessity documentation and the method the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services uses for cataloguing complaints and inquiries.

    Members asked the competitive bidding ombudsman to act more decisively, and warned that patients were being unnecessarily restricted in their choice of medical equipment.

    CMS is expected to change some regulations governing repairs and replacement, and CMS has already eliminated key elements of the Form C requirement that asks for brand and approximate number of each competitively bid item furnished to beneficiaries during the previous quarter.

    But AAHomecare members participating in the meeting expressed deep doubt when CMS representatives reiterated a claim that in the first quarter of the year there were only 43 complaints out of a total 57,000 calls to CMS about the bidding program. 

    The Atlanta meeting with CMS is part of a continuing dialogue between the AAHomecare and CMS. Over the past several years, AAHomecare has alerted CMS of the problems for providers, beneficiaries, physicians and case managers related to Medicare’s competitive bidding program. The bidding ombudsman is required to submit an annual report to Congress based upon feedback and steps taken to address concerns.

    AAHomecare says CMS’ failure to recognize serious flaws in the bidding program underscores the need for Congress to pass legislation to replace the current program with a sustainable market pricing program.

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