Editor's Note

Time to 'Go Big'

It's do-or-die time in the fight against national competitive bidding.

Ready for the fight against competitive bidding? Well, it’s a little late in the game, but there’s still hope. The proverbial 11th hour has arrived, and the fiery meteor that is Round Two of competitive bidding is hurtling so close that I think the industry can collectively feel its gravitational pull.

It’d be easy to say that now is the time to act, but really, five years ago was the time to act. Same with four years ago, three years, two years, one year — we have watched the very perceptible countdown to the inevitability of nationwide competitive bidding, and now it is nearly here.

A Tough Fight So Far

I don’t mean to grouch at the industry. I recognize the considerable efforts the industry has made. National and state associations, along with grassroots efforts were able to secure a delay to the implementation of Round One through the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act in 2008. Bought at a 9.5 percent reimbursement rate cut to the product categories affected by Round One, this was still a huge win in terms of delaying CMS’s faulty bid program.

And that gave the industry time to put into place H.R. 3790, the bill introduced by Rep. Kendrick Meek (D.-Fla.) that called for the repeal of competitive bidding. Bi-partisan support for this bill grew to roughly 250 co-sponsors in the House, but then circumstances turned ugly. The cuts from the re-bid of Round One totally threw off the Meek bill’s pay-for — and budget neutrality has been a must for the past few Congresses — and Meek himself lost his seat.

The net impact? Despite all that hard work of fighting for the passage of MIPPA and the ground gained in support of the Meek bill, Round One was implemented.

Frustration, Thy Name Is HME

Now we sit on the eve of Round Two. Bid amounts will be announced shortly (perhaps by the time you read this), contracts will be announced in Spring of 2013, and implementation will happen in July of 2013. Quick arithmetic: that’s nine months to try and stop competitive bidding before it is implemented. That’s not a lot of time.

Fortunately, it looks like we have a bill coming down the pike. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) agreed to lead up drafting and launching legislation into the House of Representatives that would repeal competitive bidding and replace it with the industry’s Market Pricing Program (MPP). In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if that bill is released within hours of this issue going to press.

The bill that Congressman Price is poised to introduce represents your best hope to stop competitive bidding before implementation. Is that possible? Only time will tell, but as it was pointed out in our annual industry roundtable (see “Bracing for 2013,” starting page 28), the more inertia Round Two gains, the tougher it will be for the industry to stop the program.

Make This One Count

You cannot sit this fight out. The onus is on every single participant in this industry to contact their lawmakers and make sure that they not only co-sponsor the bill, but that they push their fellow lawmakers to do likewise. Moreover, providers must closely monitor every communication their state and national associations send them so that they are dialed in on every development.

Now is the time to get involved, and as they say, “go big, or go home.” If you have any doubt as to how crucial your participation in industry advocacy will be over the next several months, close your eyes and imagine what your business will do the day after implementation day for Round Two — without a contract. Don’t leave this up to anyone else. This is your fight. This is your business.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 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 Twitter at @postacutenews.

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