The National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES) has created a legal defense fund to help the industry pursue legal challenges to competitive bidding.
“We have got to start collecting funds from people who have a stake in this industry that we can use solely for the purpose of funding litigation in this case,” said Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. “We know that the lawsuit that comes to fruition is going to cost between $300,000 and $500,000. There is no organization in the industry that has that kind of money.”
So, NAIMES is seeking pledges of $1,000 from suppliers in the 80 MSAs covered in rounds one and two of competitive bidding. IT says the funds would be used only for legal expenses related to litigation in this case, and unused contributions would be offered for return back to donors on a pro rata basis. A pledge form can be found at www.dmehelp.org.
Stanfield said that counting the maximum number of suppliers in the highest categories covered in round one of competitive bidding, approximately 200 suppliers were offered bids. This means, he added, that there should be between 1,000 and 1,200 providers who were not offered bids.
“If just those companies wrote a check for $1,000 we would have enough money to fund a lawsuit without anything else,” Stanfield explained.
Stanfield says NAIMES has been consulting with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Akin & Gump since before the announcement of the first contracts, and has determined a suit could be brought against CMS. (VGM Group and Last Chance for Patient Choice are also consulting with the firm, according to a recent NAIMES statement.)
Besides supporting a potential suit from NAIMES, if the fund gets substantial enough contributions, it could help fund more than one legal “path,” including those brought by other industry organizations and associations, Stanfield says.