CBIC Publishes Antitrust Fact Sheet for NCB Round 2

As the industry braces for the start of Medicare's national competitive bidding (NCB) program, round 2, the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) has released antitrust guidelines for participating DMEPOS suppliers.

The document, released Dec. 27, says of the competitive bidding program, "This process is designed to improve the accuracy of Medicare DMEPOS payments and ensure that beneficiaries get quality items and services at fair prices. The competitive process only works, however, when suppliers set their bid prices independently. When competitors collude, prices are inflated and honest suppliers, Medicare beneficiaries, and the American public are cheated."

The fact sheet goes on to say that "price fixing, bid rigging and other forms of collusion... are illegal," even if prices offered were reasonable or the agreements were made to prevent price cutting or to ensure that competitors each received a fair share of Medicare business.

"Moreover, these types of agreements need not be formal or in writing to be unlawful," the CBIC antitrust document says. "When competitors share competitively sensitive pricing information -- for example, the price or level at which they intend to bid for a particular contract -- or obtain that information from third parties, it can lead to express or tacit agreements on prices or bids that violate the antitrust laws."

The guidance document tells DMEPOS suppliers to avoid a number of antitrust scenarios, including agreements among competitors on bid amounts; agreements among competitors not to bid on certain product categories; agreements among competitors not to bid or to submit losing bids; or agreements among competitors to take turns being the lowest bidder.

To see the complete fact sheet, go to the CBIC Web site's Fact Sheets page.

About the Author

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

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