The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) dropped nearly a third of durable home equipment (DME) suppliers from participating in Round 2 of its competitive bidding program, leaving even fewer providers for Tennessee beneficiaries, according to an article from The Tennessean.
The 30 out-of-state contracts were voided because the DME providers that had won contracts in Tennessee did not have the required licensing in place when they submitted bids, according to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a letter to state legislators.
An estimated 85% of DME providers in Tennessee were not among those elected to compete in Round 2, The Tennessean’s Getahn Ward said in a webcast.
Regardless, Tavenner assured in a response letter that beneficiaries will continue to have access to a wide variety of DME supplies given the large number of in-state providers.
Earlier this month, lawmakers had sent a letter with over 200 Congressional signatures to Administrator Tavenner, expressing their concerns for Round 2 of the bidding program.
Along with the letter, U.S. Representatives also introduced a bill that would delay the start of Round 2 until identified program flaws were addressed and fixed.
Neither of these initiatives have proven fruitful for legislators or home care advocacy groups who argue that the CMS program lacks transparency and limits competition.
While licensing issues have sprouting up in other states not only limited to Tennessee, CMS has remained firm in its stance that it will not delay or eliminate the competitive bidding program, even following a lawsuit filed against the federal agency by a Maryland DME provider and industry trade group the American Association for Homecare.
“Competitive bidding is working and is saving taxpayers and beneficiaries billions of dollars,” said CMS spokeswoman Tami Holzman to The Tennessean. “We remain confident that seniors will have access to their equipment, [and] savings will continue.”
Written by Jason Oliva