Binding Bids Legislation Unveiled in Senate

Sens. Portman and Cardin introduce counterpart to H.R. 4920 to help put a stop to 'suicide bidding.'

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) have launched the Medicare Competitive Bidding Improvement Act (MCBIA) of 2014, companion legislation to H.R. 4920, which Congressmen Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and John Larson (D-Conn.) introduced in the House in June

The simple, straightforward bill would help deter speculative bidding in Medicare contract auctions by making all bids binding and require proof of licensure for the next rounds of bidding. There are three key provisions in the bill:

  • Providers will need to prove licensure before they submit bids.
  • Bidders would be required to obtain a bid bond.
  • Bonds will be forfeited if the bidder declines the contract and his bid was at or below the bid price.

The full text of the bill is available at http://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=1eb30093-ce66-44b7-b5f6-3b9e4c79efba

“Because of loopholes in the Medicare bidding process, speculative bidders were allowed to game the system,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “This bill will help restore accountability, alleviate artificially low prices and deter unlicensed providers. AAHomecare is proud to support Senators Portman and Cardin as they fight to bring common sense to the Medicare bidding program.”

“Providing strong financial incentives for bidders to honor their bids, and having an outside third party financially vet bidders will significantly strengthen the Medicare bidding program,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations at Invacare Corp. “We are grateful to both Senators for their hard work on this important measure.”  

“It’s important that we’re taking steps to ensure seniors have access to the medical supplies they rely on,”  Portman said. “This legislation will increase transparency and fairness in the bidding process, promote competition and ensure seniors have increased access to quality medical supplies.”

“Good governance and good business practices are both founded on transparency,” Cardin said. “Our bill would increase transparency in CMS bidding to help those reliant on affordable medical supplies as well as the small business that supply them. I thank Senator Portman for joining me in moving forward this commonsense, bipartisan legislation to help better serve the American people.”  

A companion bill in the Senate is critical in advancing industry legislation before the recompete of Round Two of competitive bidding. Ryan said HME providers and manufacturers should visit Action.AAHomecare.org  to ask their elected Senators to support the bill.”

“Faced with the short lame duck session, the time is now for the home medical equipment community to unite behind this legislation,” said Robert Steedley, president of Barnes Healthcare Services Inc., and chairman of the AAHomecare Board of Directors. “Our national and state advocacy teams are pushing 24/7 to build support for this legislation, but Senators need to hear directly from constituents about why they should support this bill.”

"This bill is a critical step in bringing much needed accountability to the competitive bidding process,” said Ann Horton, executive director of the Maryland-National Capital Homecare Association (MNCHA). “We applaud the House and Senate for their bipartisan action toward improving this flawed program."

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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