CMS Announces NCB Redo Timeline, Starts Supplier Education

As part of the June 4 meeting of the new Program Advisory & Oversight Committee (PAOC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced timelines for the relaunching of its competitive bidding program.

According to information distributed at the PAOC meeting, bidding will begin in the fall of this year. In the winter of 2009 and spring of 2010, CMS will review bids, determine payment amounts and start the contracting process. Winning bidders are scheduled to be publicly announced in the summer of 2010, and education of beneficiaries and other stakeholders would begin that fall.

Competitive bidding would be implemented in January 2011.

In response to complaints about the bidding process for the previous competitive bidding program, CMS says it plans to implement "an upgraded online bid submission system, early bidder education and increased oversight of bidders that are new to product categories or competitive bidding areas to ensure they meet CMS' requirements."

Concerns about the original competitive bidding program -which went into effect on July 1, 2008, but was halted just two weeks later by the Medicare Improvements for Patients & Providers Act - included the fact that some suppliers had won bids for product categories they had not before provided, or bids for geographical areas in which they had little or no staffing and service in place.

In a May 29 news release, CMS said the original competitive bidding program "resulted in average savings of 26 percent compared to the prices Medicare would have paid for the competitive bid items under the existing DMEPOS fee schedule in 2008."

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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