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DMEPOS Medicare Competitive Bidding Temporary Gap Period Lapses

Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics,Orthotics, and Supplies Medicare Competitive Bidding Program: Temporary Gap Period

Unless you’re a healthcare worker using durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) or are a home healthcare company, you probably have no idea what Medicare’s DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) is or how it affects healthcare equipment suppliers and patients.

Frankly, it’s been a thorn in the sides of many DMEPOS companies for years. Imagine their glee when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed changes to the program.

All Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, & Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program contracts expired on December 31, 2018. As of January 1, 2019, there is a temporary gap in the entire DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program that CMS expects will last until December 31, 2020

During the temporary gap, any Medicare enrolled DMEPOS supplier may furnish DMEPOS items and services to people with Medicare. In most cases, people with Medicare won’t need to switch suppliers on or after January 1, 2019. 

  • Medicare beneficiaries may receive DMEPOS items from any Medicare-enrolled supplier until such time as new CBP contracts go into effect.
  • When competitive bidding resumes, it will be under new program rules, as discussed below.
Future Competitive Bidding Program Rules

In a final rule scheduled to be published on November 14, 2018, CMS adopted a number of “market-oriented reforms” and technical policy changes for future rounds of competitive bidding. According to CMS, the new rules will simplify the bidding process, preserve beneficiary access to items and services, and make the DMEPOS CBP more sustainable.

Of particular note, CMS has finalized its proposed “lead item pricing” methodology. Rather than bid on each item/HCPCS code in a product category for each competitive bidding area (CBA), suppliers will submit a single bid for the item in the product category designated by CMS to have the highest total nationwide Medicare allowed charges.

Proposed Changes Are a Win/Win

According to a CMS Newsroom Fact Sheet, “Beginning on January 1, 2019, beneficiaries may receive DMEPOS items from any willing supplier (until new contracts are awarded under the DMEPOS CBP).”

Home healthcare supply companies are breathing a big sigh of relief about the proposed changes.

The proposed changes will benefit to small DME companies by allowing them to market their products and company to providers, facilities, and nursing agencies without limiting their customer base to non-Medicare insurances.

Even though Medicare fee schedule is low, it opens up the market to more customers and creates a fairer playing field for all companies, which will result in better service to beneficiaries.

For those companies who didn’t have contracts due to CBP, but now do, the only downside is they’ll need to jump back through the hoops of government regulations to get their Medicare claims paid.

To learn more about Medicare’s Temporary Gap Period or the future of Medicare Competitive Bidding, follow the link http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/DMEPOSCompetitiveBid/index.html?redirect=/DMEPOSCompetitiveBid/

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