“Angry, and Frustrated” House Staffers Grill CMS on Competitive Bidding

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of massive Medicare reimbursement cuts across several sectors of DME (including a 47% cut to CPAP), staff members for several House Representatives held a closed-door meeting with CMS officials earlier this week.

Reports drifting in to the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES) indicate that House staffers were “very angry, and frustrated to the point of walking out.” Wayne Stanfield, founder of NAIMES, reports that one health legislative aid expressed “anger and irritation at CMS’ lack of response to almost any questions asked.”

On average, DME suppliers took a 45% reimbursement hit across eight product categories. In the realm of sleep, a full-face mask used with PAP device will now garner a $99 single payment amount (SPA). Click here for the full list of SPAs affecting sleep-related equipment. Click here for the official CMS press release/announcement.

Since providers who won contracts have already been contacted via e-mail, sleep physicians and sleep labs with long-standing referral relationships can now check to see if their DME company will still be serving Medicare CPAP patients. Providers have until Feb 13, 2013, to decide whether or not to accept the contract and the rate.

DME providers continue to fight competitive bidding in hopes of replacing it with an industry-favored market pricing program (MPP). Advocates at the American Association for Homecare plan to push the replacement measure as part of a debt ceiling package, or a budget continuing resolution, that Congress will discuss in May.

“Several House staff members plan to request meetings with CMS and representatives from their states joining them,” added Stanfield. “The reports from the meeting held yesterday exceeded industry expectation for the lack of substantive answers.”

Source: Greg Thompson, Staff writer

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