U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have introduced legislation that may re-open the competitive bidding process for durable medical equipment suppliers in Tennessee.
The bill would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to conduct a rebid for contracts to supply durable medical equipment like wheelchairs and blood pressure monitors to Tennessee’s Medicare beneficiaries.
The competitive bidding program requires Medicare beneficiaries to purchase equipment through select businesses that have won government contracts based on pricing, capacity, quality and licensing.
In June, a probe by Tennessee’s congressional delegation found that 30 of 98 contracts were awarded to companies that were not licensed in Tennessee and would have to be voided. The news came just two weeks before the program was scheduled to go into effect on July 1.
“We cannot afford to risk the health of Medicare recipients in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga who depend on necessary medical supplies by launching a troubled program that may not be able to meet their needs,” Alexander said in a news release. “The administration needs to rebid the contracts to businesses that are licensed in Tennessee and assure beneficiaries that they won’t be left high and dry.”
CMS Still Confident
CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner’s comments on the matter have suggested that the bidding program won’t be re-opened in Tennessee, despite the voided contracts. She told Congressman Phil Roe that “given the large number of in-state suppliers … (CMS is) confident that beneficiaries will continue to have access to a wide variety of quality items and services in the state.”