Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CMS Rejects Congressional Request to Release Bid Winners, Ensure Transparency

In a letter to Representatives Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) and Ralph Hall (R-Texas), CMS rejected the request of 136 members of the House of Representatives requesting greater transparency in the bid process. The letter, which AAHomecare received from congressional sources, will also be sent via mail to all the cosigners of the August 11 transparency letter.

In the response, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined what they consider a number of improvements that have been implemented to the program but declined to make public the list of providers whose bids were used to determine the single payment amounts in the nine bidding areas. They provide the following explanation for their decision:

“First and foremost, we believe that providing a series of interim lists of suppliers would result in beneficiary confusion, undermining the orderly and effective implementation of the program. In addition, we have not yet notified the suppliers whose bids were not among the winning bids and we believe that these suppliers should be notified before the names of the suppliers with winning bids are released to the public. Further, announcing a subset of suppliers before the contracting process is complete could be viewed as giving those suppliers an unfair competitive advantage."

"In addition, the premature release of information may jeopardize the procurement process itself. At the request of the DMEPOS industry, the Request for Bids, which outlined the requirements governing the bid submission and evaluation process, indicated that bidder information could only be disclosed in an anonymous or aggregate format and that proprietary information would be protected from disclosure. Further, standard procurement rules prohibit disclosing the identities of bidders until after contracts are final.”

CMS plans to release the names of contract winners by the end of September, however there is no statutory requirement that they do so. AAHomecare is concerned this time frame will not allow sufficient congressional review and time to educate beneficiaries. To read the letter from CMS, please click here.

No comments: