Senators Send Bidding Halt Letter to CMS

36 Senators join Sens. Thune, Casey, Hoeven in calling on Admin. Tavenner to pause bid expansion.

Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) sent a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 36 additional Senators to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner calling on CMS to hold off on plans to expand the competitive bidding program nationwide by 2016.

Specifically, the letter calls on CMS to stop all work to take the program national until the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General completes an investigation of Round Two of competitive bidding.

The expansion plan gained attention when CMS asked for public comment on the fact that by 2016, the agency must extend the bidding program or at least competitive bidding pricing (for categories covered by the program) to areas that are currently not part of the program. This proposal poses considerable home to rural providers who would be subject to massive reimbursement cuts — (Round Two cuts to single payment amounts were 45 percent on average) without any gain in volume.

 “We appreciate that CMS is requesting input before moving forward, especially given the impact competitive bidding prices could have on rural areas,” the letter reads. “In these remote areas, DMEPOS are especially vital and necessary to resident beneficiaries, and we question whether an apples-to-apples comparison with urban areas is the best approach …

“Before you move forward in implementing competitive bidding nationally, we request that you allow the OIG to complete their investigation on competitive bidding licensure problems and verification of Round Two single payment amounts and give Congress time to review the results,” the letter adds.

Senators singing the letter include:

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)
Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)
Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin)
Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
Dan Coats (R-Ind.)
Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
Mike Crapo (R-Id.)
Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)
Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota)
Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)
Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)
Mike Johanns (R-Neb.)
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)
Angus King (I-Maine)
Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.)
Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)
Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
Tim Scott (R-S.C.)
Pat Toomey (R-Penn.)
Mark Udall (D-Colo.)
David Vitter (R-La.)
Roger Wicker (R- Miss.).
Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)

The full text of the letter can viewed online at http://www.thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2014/5/thune-casey-hoeven-call-on-administration-to-halt-expansion-of-program-prior-to-hhs-ig-review.

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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