House Bill to Delay CMS Competitive Bidding Is ‘No Free Lunch’
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME) is under fire in both Congress and the courts.
Measures introduced last week in the House and Senate would postpone the program, under which suppliers of Medicare-covered DME “bid” the lowest prices they will accept for their products.
H.R. 6252, the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Acquisition Reform Act, introduced by Reps. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.), would delay competitive bidding for 18 months, but it would require the DME industry to finance the delay.
That delay and corresponding reforms would increase Medicare spending by $3.1 billion over five years, according to Stark.
That would be paid for within the DME sector by reducing Medicare payment rates by 9.5 percent nationwide starting next year. Those rates could be reduced even further in 2014.
“The Bush administration designed this program with blinders on to the needs of … the small companies that make up most of the DME industry,” Stark said. “But as I told the industry from the start, this is no free lunch.”Also last week, the American Association for Homecare filed a lawsuit against the heads of the CMS and HHS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case, American Association for Homecare et al v. Leavitt et al, seeks a permanent injunction against implementation of the competitive bidding program.