CMS bowed to congressional pressure Friday and for the third time extended the deadline for competitive-bidding proposals. The previous extension was for just a week – from July 20 to 27; Friday’s action moved the deadline out 60 days to 9 p.m. ET on Sept. 25. The registration deadline is Aug. 27, and the accreditation deadline moves to Oct. 31.
Industry observers agreed that CMS had little choice but to grant an extension after both the Senate Finance Committee’s Democratic chairman and senior Republican called for a 90-day delay. Bidders’ frustration and, in some cases, outrage, with the online bid-submission system grew quickly during the last month as time ran out and the system’s exasperating problems persisted.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking Republican Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote to CMS earlier in the week making clear their unhappiness with the July 27 deadline. At the same time, calls by industry groups for an extension grew louder and more numerous as reports kept coming in that the bid-preparation system was still locking users out and preventing them from bidding in separate categories, among other problems.
Adding to the situation’s complexity last week was Acting CMS Administrator, Leslie Norwalk’s decision to leave her post. That left Deputy Director, Herb Kuhn to make the call regarding the bidding deadline.