CMS Names 1st-Round Winners, Extends 2nd-Round Accreditation Deadlines

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has made public the identities of the 325 DME suppliers who have won contracts in competitive bidding's first round.

The first round of competitive bidding will affect 10 regions throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, starting on July 1.

In a statement released yesterday, CMS said competitive bidding would "lower the costs for certain durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS)" and that "because beneficiaries pay 20 percent co-insurance on the cost of DMEPOS, they will directly benefit from the savings."

CMS' competitive bidding Web site said, "As a result of the competitive bidding process, the amounts that Medicare will pay for the 10 product categories included in round one of the DMEPOS competitive bidding program overall average 26 percent less than Medicare's previous payment amounts."

Opponents of the plan are concerned that beneficiary access to DME will be threatened, as fewer suppliers in the first-round competitive bidding areas will be eligible to provide DME in the affected categories, including standard power chairs, scooters, and rehab power chairs. Opponents are also concerned about threats to small businesses and a possible slow-down in future research & development, as lower Medicare reimbursement and a focus on providing lower-cost equipment could discourage continuing product innovation and improvements.

Opponents and industry organizations have complained that a large number of suppliers who submitted first-round bids were unjustly disqualified from consideration. CMS said 63 percent of the total number of first-round bidders were disqualified. That large number of disqualifications, among other questions, raised eyebrows at a May 6 House Ways & Means sub-committee meeting, though CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems insisted the program has no problems.

For lists of contract winners by competitive bidding area, click HERE.

As part of its May 20 announcement, CMS also said it was extending the deadline by which suppliers in the 70 second-round metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) must be accredited or must have applied for accreditation. The new deadline is July 21, 2008; the old deadline was May 14, 2008.

In its announcement, CMS said it was extending the deadline because "a significant number of suppliers in those communities have not yet applied for accreditation." Suppliers wishing to compete for contracts in the second-round MSAs must have at least started the accreditation process by July 21.

Suppliers must now be accredited by Jan. 14, 2009, to win a second-round competitive bidding contract.

For a list of the CMS-approved Deemed Accreditation Organizations, go to www.cms.hhs.gov/MedicareProviderSupEnroll/01_Overview.asp.
 
For information about the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding program, go to www.cms.hhs.gov/DMEPOSCompetitiveBid/.

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