NASL praises bipartisan effort to delay Medicare competitive bidding program

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The National Association for the Support of Long-Term Care has registered strong support for lawmakers who say the government should put the brakes on a Medicare competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies. 

In an example of bipartisan agreement in the House of Representatives, Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Bruce Braley (D-IA) composed a joint letter, which 226 other representatives signed. The letter asks Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to delay round two of the competitive bidding program, which is scheduled to take effect July 1. The program is set to expand from nine to 100 areas, including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The letter outlines many concerns that NASL has raised, including unqualified suppliers winning contracts. Some round-two bid winners in “virtually every competitive bidding area” lack necessary licenses or qualifications, the letter states. Additionally, Medicare payment rates to contractors are set to decrease about 45%, which raises concerns that patient care will be affected.

A payment system that does not reflect the true market for DMEPOS products and a broken bidding system will lead to suppliers that are not equipped to handle the needs of long-term care facilities, said NASL Medical Products Committee Chair David Lefkowitz.

“Supplying enteral nutrition for nursing facility residents, for example, requires the supplier to be able to track various formulas and to interact with a facility's clinical staff to ensure that patients receive the proper enteral formulas ordered by their physicians,” Lefkowitz said. “Changes in a patient's condition may mean his or her physician will order a different formula – and enteral nutrition suppliers must be able to respond to such changes.”

The Congressional lawmakers are calling on CMS to delay round two through the end of 2013 and undertake a thorough review of the program.