HHS to Investigate DME Competitive Bidding Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced it will investigate the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) controversial Competitive Bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME).

The OIG informed U.S. Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Bruce Braley (D-IA) of its decision to initiate an investigation into the CMS handling of the Competitive Bidding program Round 2. 

In June, Thompson and Braley requested the investigation following disclosures that CMS awarded contracts in bidding areas to suppliers that lacked proper licensure and accreditation—criteria required by the bid program’s guidelines and individual state laws.

“When the government picks winners in a flawed bidding system for the medical equipment business, seniors on Medicare and the small businesses that serve them lose,” said Rep. Braley. 

On June 12, 2013, Thompson and Braley initiated a letter signed by 227 Members of Congress—a full majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, including 82 Democrats and 145 Republicans—which outlined flaws and abuses within the program. The letter also requested that CMS delay the implementation of Round 2 until such flaws were fully addressed.

“With any hope, the OIG’s efforts will shed light on how these failures occurred and impose a new level of transparency at CMS and among those tasked with upholding the public trust and ensuring that the promise of Medicare is upheld for our nation’s seniors and those facing life altering disease and disability,” stated Rep. Thompson.

Since the introduction of Braley’s and Thompson’s letter, an alternative to the bidding program sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), H.R. 1717, has been gaining support in Washington and has been backed by various home health care trade organizations such as the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and the American Association for Home Care.

The bill, the Market Pricing Program as it is known already contains 150 co-signers that would halt Round 2 of CMS’ controversial bidding program.

Written by Jason Oliva