CMS: Round One ‘Very Smooth’
Industry refutes CMS’s glowing assessment at PAOC meeting.
- By David Kopf
- Apr 07, 2011
Despite numerous complaints to industry web sites and hotlines, during this week’s Medicare Program Advisory and Oversight Committee meeting, CMS representatives described the implementation of Round One bidding as “very smooth” and “very quiet.”
The PAOC was established by Congress as an advisory body that recommends CMS on the implementation of the competitive bidding program. The committees membership is comprised of various HME industry representatives and experts.
During the meeting, CMS said it had received 54,000 inquiries, but only 43 complaints. That said, CMS’s classification for “inquiries” includes patients reporting that they are having difficulty finding a provider or good-quality equipment.
“These are serious issues that cannot be overlooked as the program is operating in only nine markets around the country,” read a statement form the American Association for homecare. “… Several PAOC members believe that it defies common sense that 54,000 calls would result in only 43 complaints.”
Representing the American Association for Homecare, Walt Gorski, the association’s vice president of Government Relations noted continuing complaints about the program; CMS’s continued lack of transparency making it difficult to evaluate Round One; care quality issues; the the impact of CMS’s stepped-up audits and the newly proposed timeline for Round Two of the bidding program.
On that last point, AAHomecare noted in a public statement that it believed that the reason for the Round Two delay was that CMS “agrees that there are fundamental flaws to the program and may be waiting to see the impact this program is having on Medicare beneficiaries — questioning its initial findings.”
CMS presentations dominated the meeting’s, leaving 30 minutes at the end for public comments, which elicited strong industry response.
“I commented specifically on CMS staff having marveled at how ‘smooth’ and ‘quiet’ program implementation has gone so far,” said John Shirvinsky, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers. “I told them that they should ‘thank a provider for that. What appears smooth and quiet is made possible by the dedication and professionalism of Round 1 DME providers who have grandfathered existing patients and stepped up to take care of others at their own expense in order to keep the patients healthy and safe.’
Shirvinsky also noted to CMS representatives that they that they are “witnessing a slow-motion train wreck on the financial side.”
“Whatever CMS used as financial review standards, it failed to recognize that a 32 percent reduction in revenues would inflict irreparable harm on an industry that averages a 5 percent net profit,” he explained. “I said that we are just beginning to see the impact of unsustainable cuts and that they should strap on their seatbelts because the ride is about to get rough, noting layoffs, retrenchments and business closings as a direct result of the bidding program.”
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.