The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the award of a contract to the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC), Palmetto GBA LLC, Columbia, SC.

Awarding this contract is a key step in timely implementation of the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program, which will reduce beneficiary out-of-pocket expenses and save the Medicare program money while ensuring beneficiary access to quality DMEPOS items and services. This program changes the way that Medicare pays for these items under Part B of the Medicare program by utilizing bids submitted by DMEPOS suppliers to establish payment amounts. The statute requires competition under the program to be phased in beginning in 2007.

Palmetto GBA will conduct certain functions related to the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding program, such as preparing the request for bids (RFB), performing bid evaluations, selecting qualified suppliers, and setting payments for all competitive bidding areas. In addition, Palmetto will be responsible for overseeing an education program for beneficiaries, suppliers, and referral agents. Palmetto will also assist CMS and its contractors in monitoring program effectiveness, access, and quality. The first CBIC contract cycle began September 29. Two additional contract options are available to CMS for exercise to expand the competitive bidding geographic areas.

The proposed rule on the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program was published in the May 1 Federal Register. The final rule is expected to be issued later this year.

[SOURCE: CMS, October 2006]