All Competitive Bid Program Contracts Ended on December 31, 2018.
What Beneficiaries Should Know:
- Equipment in process under the 13 month capped rental program should continue “business as usual”.
- While providers who do not accept Medicare assignment cannot charge more than 15% higher than Medicare’s allowed charge. There is no such restriction (no limiting charge) for DME suppliers. (See Resource 7, below.) A Medicare enrolled supplier that does not accept assignment can charge without a prescribed limit. The beneficiary is responsible for the difference between what Medicare will pay and what the supplier will charge. Competitive Bid Program Contractors were required to accept assignment. Now that there are no contracts, fewer suppliers are accepting assignment. Make sure to ask if the supplier accepts assignment. Then get the answer in writing. If the answer is “no”, the beneficiary should confirm in writing what the charges will be.
- If a supplier accepts assignment, the supplier should not be charging for delivery, set up or training (this cost is included in the Medicare payment). (See Resource 6, below.)
- Repairs – CMS has “disassociated” the purchase of equipment by Medicare to require repairs and is now allowing for repairs to “stand on their own merit”, despite whether Medicare paid for the equipment originally. Beneficiaries should ensure the continued need for the equipment is updated in the medical record and ensure the need for the repair is also documented. The repair may be performed by any “authorized” repair place (CMS recommends working with the DMACs (Durable Medical Equipment Medicare Administrative Contractors) and suppliers to find an authorized repair place. (See Resource 4, below.)
- The CBICs (Competitive Bid Implementation Contractors) are no longer available for oversight of suppliers. The DMACs will continue to pay claims based on rules and policies. Generally, the NSC (National Suppliers Clearinghouse) is responsible for oversight of Medicare enrolled suppliers adherence to “supplier standards”.
- The first point of contact to resolve issues should be 1-800-MEDICARE. If a beneficiary is trying to resolve a problem, the caller should ask for the call to be “escalated”.
- Second point of contact would be the DMACs. (See Resource 4, below.)
- Third point of contact The Competitive Bidding Program Ombudsman’s Office is still active to monitor inquiries, to establish a baseline for a complaints process, and to inform CMS of beneficiary access problems. (See Resource 8, below.)
- Why has CMS abruptly allowed all Competitive Bidding Contracts to expire after building the program for more than a decade, rather than extend the contracts? CMS states that, “this Administration wishes to pursue improvements to the program via rulemaking”. CMS further states they, “anticipate no negative implications for beneficiaries.” It already appears too late for that.
To help the Center for Medicare Advocacy track, report on, and seek resolution to access barriers, please report any problems obtaining DMEPOS to DMEPOS@MedicareAdvocacy.org
- CMS Fact Sheet on the Temporary Gap Period, Effective January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/Partnerships/Downloads/DMEPOS-Temporary-Gap-Period-Fact-Sheet.pdf
- Final Rule, published November 14, 2018. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-11-14/pdf/2018-24238.pdf
- Medicare supplier directory www.medicare.gov/supplier, or to locate a supplier, ask a question or file a complaint, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
- To locate the correct DMAC for each state, see https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/indexes/contacts-durable-medical-equipment-medicare-administrative-contractor-index.aspx
- Contact a state SHIP to help resolve local/state problems. https://www.shiptacenter.org/
- The Medicare Claims Processing Manual, for questions about payment for DMEPOS, including delivery and services charges (Section 60 of the Manual) https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Manuals/Downloads/clm104c20.pdf
- For questions about assignment (and the lack of a limiting charge on some supplies and on Durable Medical Equipment) see https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/part-a-costs/lower-costs-with-assignment
- For further assistance after 1-800-MEDICARE and DMACs, contact the Office of the Competitive Bidding Acquisition Ombudsman at CompetitiveAcquisitionOmbudsman@cms.hhs.gov
- Watch out for aggressive marketing by suppliers. Report suspected fraud for investigation via online form https://forms.oig.hhs.gov/hotlineoperations/report-fraud-form.aspx or phone 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-633-4227)(TTY 1-877-486-2048).