CMS Extends Deadline for Ventilator Comments

CMS has postponed the deadline to Dec. 17 for public comments on including certain ventilator classes in future rounds of competitive bidding.

CMS has extended the deadline to Dec. 17 for comments on a plan to add certain ventilators, along with knee and back braces to the next round of competitive bidding.

Announced earlier this month, the plan would add the following codes to the next round of bidding:

  • Ventilator codes E0465, E0466, E0467
  • Off-the-shelf back brace codes L0450, L0455, L0457, L0467, L0469, L0621, L0623, L0625, L0628, L0641, L0642, L0643, L0648, L0649, L0650, L0651
  • Off-the-shelf knee brace codes L1812, L1830, L1833, L1836, L1848, L1850, L1851, L1852

Adding ventilators to the bidding program drew the greatest concern from the industry given that ventilators are highly specialized and serve patients with severe conditions.

“Ventilators are literally life support systems for the individuals who use them,” noted Tom Vorhees, CEO of PromptCare, which serves adult and pediatric ventilator patients in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. Sharing his comments in a statement from the American Association for Homecare, Vorhees added that “Including these products in the bidding program is guaranteed to reduce the number of companies with the experience and clinical expertise needed to serve this vulnerable patient cohort. If CMS' decision to include ventilators in competitive bidding results in a lack of access to these critically important products, the impacts on Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and their caregivers will be devastating.”

“There are major concerns with life-sustaining equipment such as ventilators being restricted to contracted suppliers, given the instability that the program has caused within the DMEPOS industry,” read a statement from VGM Government relations.

Both VGM and AAHomecare urged HME providers to email their comments to CMS by Dec. 17 at DMEPOS@cms.hhs.gov.

AAHomecare has posted a PDF containing various points and guidelines to help providers shape their comments to CMS. VGM also posted a similar document to help providers form their comments.

Both organizations stressed that providers should personalize their comments and describe the sorts of ventilator patients they support and the services and products they provide.

“Providing real examples of patients whom suppliers serve can effectively demonstrate the need to keep this product category out of the competitive bidding program,” VGM explained.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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