House Passes DMEPOS Bidding Delay
The House passed a bill that would delay implementation of Medicare’s durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program.
However, voting was blocked on the Senate version — S. 3144, the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Acquisition Reform Act. Because of that block, the competitive bidding program went into effect, as scheduled, last week.
Under the bidding program, suppliers must submit bids to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) indicating the prices at which they are willing to provide items. Currently, Medicare uses a fee schedule based on its average past payments for DMEPOS. Although the schedule is updated annually, the CMS believes it is not representative of true market prices.
If the delay is signed into law in the future, CMS contracts already awarded would be terminated, and suppliers would submit new bids for contracts in the affected geographic areas. The new contracts would take effect in 18–24 months.
A planned 2009 expansion of the program would not take effect before January 2011, and payment adjustments for DMEPOS in noncompetitive bidding areas could not take effect until the expansion is completed.
Although industry has resisted the program, the proposed delay would cost DMEPOS suppliers as it would be funded by a 2 percent reduction in Medicare payment rates for those items.