Time to 'Go Big'
It's do-or-die time in the fight against national competitive bidding.
- By David Kopf
- Oct 01, 2012
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
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.
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.