In a press release, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the timeline for Round 1 of the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program for 2017.

CMS has also launched a comprehensive bidder education program so that, per the release, DMEPOS suppliers interested in bidding receive the information and assistance they need to submit complete and competitive bids in a timely manner.

The DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program changes the amount Medicare pays for certain equipment like walkers and wheelchairs using market-based prices, while maintaining beneficiary access to items and services and quality of care. The program replaces the outdated, inflated fee-schedule prices Medicare paid for these items with lower, more accurate prices to help Medicare and its beneficiaries save money while ensuring access to quality equipment, supplies, and services. This program also helps limit fraud and abuse in Medicare, the release explains.

The Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program has saved more than $580 million in nine markets at the end of the Round 1 Rebid’s 3-year contract period (January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2013) due to lower payments and decreased unnecessary utilization. The expansion of the Competitive Bidding Program – Round 2 and the national mail-order recompete program – saved approximately $2 billion in its first year (July 2013 to July 2014), the release continues.

“CMS is achieving additional savings as part of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the competitive bidding program,” says Sean Cavanaugh, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare, in the release.

“Data used to monitor the effectiveness of the overall competitive bidding program show that implementation is going smoothly, with few inquiries or complaints and no adverse changes to beneficiary health outcomes,” he continues in the release.

CMS is required by section 1847(b)(3)(B) of the Social Security Act to recompete contracts under the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program at least once every 3 years. Suppliers must then compete to become a Medicare contract supplier by submitting bids to provide certain items in competitive bidding areas. The new, lower payment amounts resulting from the competitions replace the fee schedule amounts for the bid items in these areas, per the release.

The Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) is the official information source for bidders and the focal point for bidder education. The CBIC website,, features an array of important and helpful resources for suppliers, including the bidding timeline, bidding rules, user guides, fact sheets, checklists, and bid preparation worksheets. To sign up to receive important competitive bidding announcements and reminders, suppliers are encouraged to subscribe to E-Mail Updates on the CBIC website, according to the release.

In addition to viewing the information on the CBIC website, suppliers are encouraged to call the CBIC customer service center toll-free at 877-577-5331 with their questions. During registration and bidding periods, the customer service center will be open from 9 AM to 7 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Hours are extended to 9 PM Eastern time during the last 2 weeks of the registration and bidding windows, the release explains.

[Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services]