Round 2021 Bid Window Closes Sept. 18

The end of bidding for Round 2021 is fast approaching; industry experts share insights on what providers need to be doing now.

The bid window for Round 2021 of CMS’s competitive bidding program closes on Sept. 18, and the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) and industry experts are urging participants not to wait and to submit their bids right away.

Assuming participating providers have met the programs’ previous deadlines, they still must fulfill several requirements. All bidding providers must have their bids completed, approved, and certified in the DMEPOS Bidding System (DBidS), as well as have their required documents uploaded in Connexion, by 8:59:59 p.m. prevailing Eastern Time.

CBIC recently posted several reminders to providers, but stressed that they should:

  • Ensure they uploaded a bid surety bond in Connexion for each competitive bidding area on your bid, and included all pages of the bid surety bond needed to address the eight requirements outlined in the Bid Surety Bond Checklist.
  • Upload all their required financial documents in Connexion and are in accordance with the Request for Bids (RFB) Instructions.
  • Ensure their documents are not password protected before uploading in Connexion.
  • Complete Form A in DBidS and ensure it is approved and complete Form B and have it certified by your authorized official (AO) or backup authorized official (BAO).
  • Check their status page, because any update to Form A or Form B by the AO, a BAO, or an end user (EU) may require Form A to be re-approved or Form B to be re-certified.
  • Ensure the bid amount(s) on their bid sheet on Form B in DBidS is accurate and bona fide.
  • Make sure their enrollment data with the National Supplier Clearinghouse (NSC) is reflected in the Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System (PECOS) and is up to date.
  • Ensure the Licensure and accreditation for each location on their bid(s) is reflected in PECOS.
  • Verify that each registered users’ (AO, BAO, and EU) email addresses are current in the CMS Enterprise Portal.

CBIC’s laundry list aside, So how far should Round 2021 bidders be in the process right now?

“Hopefully people aren’t just opening up the websites and looking at everything right now,” joked Cara Bachenheimer, head of the government affairs practice at industry law firm Brown & Fortunato, and general counsel of the American Association for Homecare. Jokes aside, she added that for any provide that has somehow been living under a rock when it comes to Round 2021, the horse is well out of the barn and far down the road, given that the registration deadlines have come and gone. “You really can’t start from scratch at this point,” she said.

Providers that are in the game would be those that have registered; entered all their online details; ensured their accreditation is up to date; have made sure their state licensure is current; they would have their credit report and bid bond; and made sure all their data is reflected in the NSC, Bachenheimer explains.

“The finishing touch is really figuring out the bid prices for the lead item, and we’re hopeful that people are using are using the bid calculators,” she said, referring to the bidding calculators available at the DME CBP Education website. “We’ve had an incredible number of downloads, so we’re cautiously optimistic that people are looking at not just the lead item, but also the non-lead item. Because a bona fide includes the entire category, not just the lead item price.”

And in terms of timing, providers should be trying to get their bids in the system now, rather than waiting and getting stuck in the competitive bidding equivalent of a traffic jam, said Kelly Grahovac, general manager for audit consulting firm The van Halem Group, which has been working with its clients on Round 2021.

“Probably one thing that people might not be considering, but that we’ve been working with clients on is getting into the DBidS system and completing their bid submission forms,” she advised. “Because the portals are already intermittent and blocking people out. So [bidders] are already experiencing connectivity issues.

“Every client we have, we’re encouraging them to make their deadline the end of next week for submission, just to make sure they get it done,” Grahovac added, noting that her firm has watched clients via screen sharing having difficulties uploading information.

Additionally, Bachenheimer stressed that providers needed to “bid smart” (the namesake of the recent DME CMP Education conferences) because the last thing the industry needs is another round of suicide bidding like that seen in earlier rounds.

“Our collective destinies are in our collective hands and in our collective bids,” she said. “We’re always reminding people that the Medicare fees outside the bid areas will be wholly based on the bid prices. So, [Round 2021 bids] will be impactful beyond the competitive bid program.”

For online resources to help providers in these next two weeks, the DME CBP Education website offers various video tutorials; the previously mentioned bid calculators; webinars; and other educational content. Also, the CBIC website offers various fact sheets with key details and FAQs.

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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