Time for Action
HMEs need to go on the anti-NCB offensive.
- By David Kopf
- Jan 01, 2011
For the past several years, the industry has
been in a constant state of reaction to CMS’s
national competitive bidding program. First we
reacted to the program tests. Then we reacted to
bidding of Round One. Then we reacted to the
fallout of those bids. Then we reacted to the re-bid.
I say it’s time for CMS to react.
Now that Round One has gone into effect it
is time for providers and the industry to go into
public awareness overdrive and publicize every
single flaw that comes up in the program’s nine
competitive bidding areas.
Already, the industry has set up two web sites
where providers can catalog any problems that
come up in their CBA:
VGM, with support from NAIMES, CSIHME,
AMEPA and others, launched competitivebiddingconcerns.com to collect providers’ reports
of problems with bids during the re-bid of Round
One of competitive bidding. VGM will share the
reports with the submitters, too.
The American Association for Homecare is also
calling on providers and other HME industry
stakeholders to submit reports of problematic bids
and bid winners to its website. The association is
urging HME providers, their patients and family
members, and referral sources to report such problems
via its website at www.aahomecare.org, where
they will find custom forms for each stakeholder.
Déjà vu All Over Again
And make no mistake — there will be problems.
HME providers weren’t just acting like Chicken
Little when they criticized the program during
2008/2009’s bidding, and the same holds true for
Already, we know that CMS was anything but
transparent with the bid winners. Now we’ve
come to find that a significant portion of them are
suffering from credit issues, and at least in Orlando
the majority of them are not local providers. (Read
“News, Trends & Analysis,” starting page 8, to
Also, AAHomecare reported that its online
reporting tools had gathered “a growing body of
evidence” of bankrupt bid winners; errors on the
Medicare.gov website providing misinformation to
beneficiaries; materials sent to beneficiaries outside
of the nine CBAs instructing them to switch to
contract providers; bid winners without required
state licensure; and long-distance providers among
Is all this starting to sound like the first attempt
at Round One? It should. And that is exactly why
providers need to put the pressure on CMS through
media outreach efforts. And I emphasize the word
“providers.” Do not wait on your state or national
association to do the work for you.
Each and every affected provider should not
only report problems via VGM’s and AAHomecare’s
special web pages; they should launch a full frontal
assault on every one of their local media outlets.
If you haven’t already, make a list of the print
reports and TV and radio news producers in your
area and keep them on an e-mail list and speeddial.
Call them up, tell them about the program,
that it has been implemented, that it will result in
serious problems for their audiences, and that you
are going to give them a heads up when problems
arise. Help them get the scoop and help their
readers, viewers and listeners to fight back.
And don’t forget new media. If you have local
bloggers that are focused on patient or related
issues, make sure you reach out to them and keep
them in the loop. Likewise, make sure to highlight
problems in any local social network venues. If
there are Facebook groups or pages or Twitter feeds
related to local patient issues or politics, make sure
to chime in with timely wall posts and tweets to
drive local awareness.
And I do mean local. Let the associations focus
on national media. Regardless of his politics, you
have to agree that long-time Speaker of the House
was on the money when he said “All politics is
local.” If you start a strong enough fire at home, it
will set Capitol Hill ablaze with political action.
This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of HME Business.
About the Author
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/dkopf/ and on Twitter at @postacutenews.