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On June 18, 2009, and again on June 26, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans to begin accepting a new round of competitive bids from suppliers of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS).  Later in the Summer of 2009, CMS will announce its DMEPOS bidding schedule, including a schedule of educational events for prospective bidders, along with the timing of its bidder registration period.  Moreover, the current announcements encourage prospective bidders to complete their mandatory DMEPOS accreditation requirements by September 30, 2009.  In the Fall of 2009, CMS will launch the actual bidding competition.  


Of importance to advocates and beneficiaries is the need to remain alert to upcoming changes.  The DMEPOS competitive bidding process will result in a different array of suppliers who are eligible to provide Medicare-covered DMEPOS.  For some beneficiaries, this may necessitate a change of suppliers; for others, no changes will be necessary.  Advocates can visit the DMEPOS competitive bidding program section of the CMS website for the latest developments:



Competitive Bidding Areas


DMEPOS Competitive bidding is to occur in the nine largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs):   Cincinnati – Middletown (OH, KY and IN); Cleveland –Elyria-Mentor (OH); Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord (NC and SC); Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (TX); Kansas City (MO and KS); Miami- Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach (FL); Orland (FL); Pittsburgh (PA); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (CA).


Categories of Items and Services for Rebid


The Round 1 rebid will include the following categories of items and services:

  • Oxygen Supplies and Equipment;

  • Standard Power Wheelchairs, Scooters, and Related Accessories;

  • Complex Rehabilitative Power Wheelchairs and Related Accessories (Group 2); 

  • Mail-Order Diabetic Supplies;

  • Enteral Nutrient, Equipment and Supplies;

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP);

  • Respiratory Assist Devices (RADs), and Related Supplies and Accessories;

  • Hospital Beds and Related Accessories;

  • Walkers and Related Accessories;

  • Support Surfaces (Group 2 mattresses) and overlays in Miami.

The MMA requires that the competitive bidding program be phased in first for those items which have the greatest potential for savings.  This includes high cost and high volume items.  The items will be chosen based on: total Medical expenditures (allowable charges) for the item; growth in Medicare expenditures; number of suppliers of the item; savings potential; and findings, reports and studies by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) or the Government Accountability Office (GAO).


Certain Providers Exempted


The competitive bidding process also allows for the grandfathering of certain special physician/practitioners - nurses, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and physical therapists and occupational therapists in private practice - to receive payment for certain competitively bid items furnished to their own patients as part of the professional service even though they have not submitted a bid and have not been selected as a contract supplier. 


Beneficiaries who are renting an item of DME, or oxygen and oxygen equipment, that meets the definition of a grandfathered item may elect to obtain the item from a grandfathered supplier. The rules also contain special provisions for small suppliers, including forming networks of small suppliers.




As the DMEPOS competitive bidding process begins in earnest through the summer and fall of 2009, advocates and beneficiaries should be certain to talk to their suppliers of DMEPOS.  It will be necessary to know whether they are preparing to bid, and whether they are accredited as required under the DMEPOS program. 


[2] 154(a) of MIPPA, 1847(a) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395w-3; implementing regulations, 42 C.F.R. 414.400 et seq.


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