CMS starts unpopular durable medical equipment bidding process

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The competitive bidding process for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) is now in effect. But a new rule governing the process will not immediately affect the DMEPOS benefit, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials said.

CMS has said it would not delay implementation of the final rule for its DMEPOS competitive bidding process, which went into effect last Saturday, April 18. According to a CMS release, the new interim rule will have "no immediate effect in the Medicare DMEPOS benefit." Still, no official guidance has been released. The program was initially set to launch July 1, 2008, but was delayed for 18 months due to concerns from both industry officials and legislators. CMS tried to revive the program in January, but remaining concerns forced the agency to delay yet again. (McKnight's, 2/25)

Long-term care providers generally oppose the competitive bidding process because there is a real possibility larger equipment providers will have an unfair advantage over smaller companies. For its part, CMS said it would "continue to seek input from all affected stakeholders."