Congress, courts debate bill to delay CMS competitive bidding

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New measures stall competitive bidding for medical equipment. Source: Britannica  

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME) is under fire in both Congress and the U.S. courts.

Measures introduced last week in the House and Senate would postpone the program, under which suppliers of Medicare-covered DME “bid” the lowest prices they will accept for their products.

The Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Acquisition Reform Act, H.R. 6252, introduced by Reps. Pete Stark, D-Calif., and Dave Camp, R-Mich., proposes that the DME industry finance the 18-month competitive bidding delay.

The delay and corresponding reforms would increase Medicare spending by $3.1 billion over five years, which would be paid for within the DME sector by reducing Medicare payment rates by 9.5 percent nationwide starting next year. Those rates could be reduced even further in 2014, according to Stark.

“The Bush administration designed this program with blinders on to the needs of … the small companies that make up most of the DME industry,” Stark said. “But as I told the industry from the start, this is no free lunch.”

Last week, the American Association for Homecare filed a lawsuit against the heads of CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case, American Association for Homecare et al v. Leavitt et al, seeks a permanent injunction against implementation of the competitive bidding program.