July 1 Marks Expansion of Medicare Competitive Bidding Program

Patients Could Have Questions About Access to Durable Medical Equipment, Supplies

June 10, 2013 03:45 pm News Staff

Come July 1, family physicians around the country may be on the receiving end of questions from their Medicare patients about changes in durable medical equipment suppliers brought about by an expanding CMS competitive bidding program designed to prevent fraud and save Medicare dollars.

[Stock photo - Lower body image of woman with walker ]

FPs can assure their patients in the 91 new areas affected by the program(www.cms.gov) that Medicare will continue to cover medical equipment and supplies such as oxygen equipment, wheelchairs, scooters, hospital beds and walkers. However, beginning July 1, Medicare patients who live in -- or are visiting -- one of the targeted areas may have to locate a new supplier based on newly awarded Medicare contracts.

The latest supplier contracts -- denoted as round two of Medicare's competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies -- are in addition to suppliers selected in nine areas as part of round one of the program, which was piloted in 2011.

In a press release issued earlier this spring(www.cms.gov), CMS reported that the pilot resulted in savings for the Medicare program of $202 million in the first year.

"The expansion of the competitive bidding program means more beneficiaries will benefit from fair pricing on included equipment and supplies," said (then) acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, M.A., in the release.

"Each of these contract suppliers has met our stringent standards, so beneficiaries can be assured they will receive their equipment and supplies from accredited, qualified suppliers at significantly lower prices," she added.

Consumers, physicians and other health care professionals can find a list of Medicare contract suppliers by using Medicare's supplier directory tool(www.medicare.gov) or by calling (800)-MEDICARE [633-4227].

Also on July 1, Medicare will implement a similar bidding program that covers mail-order diabetic testing supplies. Suppliers awarded contracts for the mail-order bidding program will have the ability to service consumers' orders from 52 locations around the country.

In other news about the competitive bidding program, CMS recently announced the schedule for a webinar that explains updates to the Medicare competitive bidding program. The webinar will be presented on four different occasions to accommodate physicians and other health care professionals.

Sign up now(dmeposcbjune2013.eventbrite.com) to view the 60-minute webinar on one of four dates (all times are Eastern Daylight Time):

  • June 11 at 11 a.m.,
  • June 13 at 4 p.m.,
  • June 17 at 2 p.m. and
  • June 19 at 5 p.m.

Registration for each webinar is limited to 250 participants.