Medicare Competitive Bidding Program Readies for Jan. 1 Rollout

On Nov. 3, the CMS released a list of the 356 competitive bidding
suppliers with Medicare contracts that will provide certain medical equipment
and supplies to beneficiaries in nine communities throughout the United States.
The competitive bidding program aims to save Medicare and its beneficiaries
nearly $28 billion over the course of 10 years, through cuts in reimbursement
rates averaging 32%, according to a National Association for the Advancement of
Orthotics and Prosthetics press release.

In addition, beneficiaries will pay less for copayments —
approximately $10 billion less over 10 years.

The competitive bidding program officially goes into effect on Jan. 1,
2011, for beneficiaries in the designated metropolitan statistical areas:
Charlotte, N.C., Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando,
Pittsburgh and Riverside, Calif.

The durable medical equipment (DME) affected by this program includes
oxygen supplies and equipment, wheelchairs, and diabetic supplies, among other
items, not including orthotics and prosthetics. Off-the-shelf orthotics
eventually may be included in a future round of bidding, however.

Beneficiaries will receive notices from their current DME suppliers
alerting them to these changes.

Some providers will be grandfathered into the program, according to the
release. Additionally, once the new program is implemented, suppliers will be
required to provide devices and services exclusively from competitively bid
contractors, and “must make a good faith effort” to find
competitively bid contractors to provide any devices not supplied by Medicare

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