Home Equipment Providers to Re-Compete for Medicare Contracts

Suppliers of certain home health products soon will be able to bid for contracts to begin in 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced.

There are nine product categories in this Round 1 2017 bidding, which is a recompete of the contracts awarded in the Round 1 Recompete of the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program. CMS is required to recompete contracts at least once every three years, and the contracts awarded under the Round 1 Recompete are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016.

The April 21 announcement from CMS came just days after President Barack Obama signed a Medicare reform bill that also changed certain rules governing the DMEPOS bidding process. Under the new law, providers will have to meet certain licensure requirements and secure bid bonds to participate in bidding. The changes are to be in place for contracts “not earlier than Jan. 1, 2017, and not later than Jan. 1, 2019,” the law states.

Efforts are underway to implement the changes for the Round 1 2017 bidding process, news sources report. The changes are among several that have been floated to address concerns with the bidding process, which critics say is severely flawed and has driven suppliers and providers out of business and restricted seniors’ access to home medical equipment.

The product categories in the Round 1 2017 bidding include: enteral nutrients, equipment and supplies; general home equipment such as hospital beds; nebulizers; negative wound therapy pumps; respiratory equipment; standard mobility equipment such as walkers and manual wheelchairs; and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation devices and supplies.

A new category, ventilators, also is included, according to the CMS announcement. This will only bid in eight competitive bidding areas (CBAs), while the other product categories will bid in the same nine as the Round 1 Recompete. Nearly all the CBAs for the 2017 bidding have the same ZIP codes as in the Round 1 Recompete, but some have changed, CMS noted.

CMS plans to announce the bidding schedule this summer and start the bidder registration process. Bidding then is slated to begin in the fall.

Written by Tim Mullaney