As 2012 draws to a close, industry stakeholders are making a last push on behalf of H.R. 6490, the bill that would replace Medicare’s national competitive bidding program with the Market Pricing Program (MPP).
At press time, the bill had 80 co-sponsors. It was introduced by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).
Industry organizations including the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) and the National Association of Independent Medical Suppliers (NAIMES) were urging members to stay in contact with members of Congress who have not yet signed on as co-sponsors.
NAIMES, for example, encouraged industry members to target members of Congress who were co-sponsors of H.R. 1041 – last year’s bill to repeal competitive bidding – but had not yet signed on to support H.R. 6490. NAIMES said more than a hundred such members of Congress currently exist.
AAHomecare, meanwhile, urged members to call, e-mail and meet with their representatives, and to ask family, friends, colleagues and DME consumers to do the same.
While the MPP was designed to be budget neutral and would reduce Medicare’s DME spending by the same amount as the competitive bidding program does, it differs from Medicare’s current competitive bidding program in a number of significant ways.
Supporters point out that the MPP would allow only serious bidders to participate: Bids would be binding, and suppliers would have to put down cash deposits as part of the bidding process. In the current competitive bidding program, bidders are not required to honor their bids, which enables suppliers to make outrageously low bids, but decline the contracts offered by Medicare.
Bidding areas under the MPP would be smaller than the current metropolitan statistical areas being used in competitive bidding, to ensure that they are homogeneous.
The same types of DME would be included in the MPP and the current competitive bidding program, but only two product categories would be bid per bidding area. In each bidding area, the prices for eight additional product categories would be reduced based on the auctions that occurred in similar bidding areas.
Parts of the country currently participating in competitive bidding would also take part in the MPP, and the MPP’s timeframe would be the same as the competitive bidding program’s.