Legislators Make Last-Minute Plea for NCB Delay

Pressure for action is building on Capitol Hill as the July 20 deadline nears for HMEs in the first 10 roll-out cities to submit bids under National Competitive Bidding. Legislation in the House and Senate that would block CMS' competitive bidding program continues attracting cosponsors.

In lieu of a legislative fix, representatives Tom Allen (D-Maine) and Sam Johnson (R-Texas), and senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), urged their colleagues to sign onto a letter to Acting CMS Administrator Leslie Norwalk urging that competitive bidding be delayed. The signers cite "serious concerns that patient access to critical medical technologies and supplies will be severely restricted under the current implementation plans . . ."

Although the letter is slated to go to Norwalk early this week, CMS has so far given no public indication that it is giving thought to a delay. Experiencing intense frustration about this are HMEs nationwide who are wrestling their bids' data into CMS' brambly and often-uncooperative computer application that AAHomecare's Walt Gorski called "slow, primitive . . . and prone to failure." CMS is using to accept bids. The chorus of complaints that criticize everything from the system's instability and to its penchant for simply losing vast amounts of data that HMEs spent hours typing in only grew in volume during the last week.

Meanwhile, as the deadline clock continues ticking, CMS will host a Home Health, Hospice & DME Open Door Forum on Wednesday, July 18 at 2 p.m. ET. To participate by phone, call (800) 837-1935 and enter conference ID number 2467910. If you can't make it at that time, listen by phone to a recording of the meeting: call (800) 837-1935 and enter the same ID number. The recording is available for three business days beginning two hours after the Open Door Forum ends.

This article originally appeared in the July 2007 issue of HME Business.

HME Business Podcast