Push Against Competitive Bidding Goes National

A growing group of professionals with ties to the home care and medical equipment industries are uniting in their opposition to a proposal from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand its competitive bidding program to new areas. 

From clinicians and advocates for Medicare beneficiaries to home medical equipment providers, manufacturers, and trade groups, the push against the CMS proposal, which expands the prices of goods and services under its bid procurement program to non-bid areas throughout the country. 

The American Association for Home Care reviewed public comments on the proposal and found that a majority of the 185 comments are critical of the proposal. Critics cite ramifications in areas that already have competitive bidding, and some said that the bidding program is “devastating” to Medicare beneficiaries and providers in rural areas.

“These comments, coming from a variety of individuals and organizations, offer further evidence that the CMS bidding program endangers patients and needlessly puts providers out of business,” said Thomas Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare, in a statement. “CMS and Congress should be focused on fixing these problems so that senior citizens and others living with disabilities—some of the most vulnerable people in our society—receive adequate goods and services. We need to stop the rush to expand, and make the current program work properly.”

Other groups voicing opposition to the proposal include the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services, Diabetes Management & Supplies, the Clinician Task Force, Allina Health Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 

Complaints from these groups include allegations that CMS designed a bid program that doesn’t hold bidders accountable and ensure that they’re qualified to provide products and services they bid for in certain markets, and that the average reduction in prices that the bidding program produces are unsustainable and impact care quality. 

“This reduction in reimbursement has caused two significant problems: DME suppliers are unable to offer sufficient patient education and training on their PAP equipment, and fewer, high-quality, local DME suppliers are available to Medicare beneficiaries,” wrote Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  “Our members report the Competitive Bidding Program has had a number of detrimental effects on the quality of and access to DME care.”

Written by Alyssa Gerace