Protecting Medicare Advantage 

By Congresswoman Renee Ellmers
The State of Healthcare 2014 - The Washington Times
March 26, 2014

Medicare Advantage is under siege. For the past three years, the Obama administration has carried out an orchestrated attack on the funding for Medicare Advantage and the cost-saving mechanisms that have allowed it to provide important care for our seniors. They are doing this in order to divert funding for the aptly-named Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) - a law which has already forced millions of Americans off their health plans and caused premiums to skyrocket.

Click here to read the full op-ed.

Competitive Bidding Program for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS)

If you are experiencing problems with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Competitive Bidding Program for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS), I want to hear about it.  Please email my office and contact CMS directly at 1-800-Medicare to ensure they are aware of the problem.  You can also visit the CMS website for more information


Created in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, the goal of the program was to improve quality of service and eliminate excess costs within Medicare. While everyone supports competition and savings, the program is anything but “competitive”. Despite strong Congressional concerns about the lack of transparency, the lack of binding bids during the contract process, and the improper vetting of the financial wherewithal of many firms that have been awarded contracts, CMS rolled out Round 2 of the process on July 1st, expanding the program from 9 to 91 metropolitan areas.

The following information regarding DMEPOS competitive bidding is reprinted from the - Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website:

Program Overview

Section 302 of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) established requirements for a new Competitive Bidding Program for certain Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS). Under the program, DMEPOS suppliers compete to become Medicare contract suppliers by submitting bids to furnish certain items in competitive bidding areas, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awards contracts to enough suppliers to meet beneficiary demand for the bid items. The new, lower payment amounts resulting from the competition replace the Medicare DMEPOS fee schedule amounts for the bid items in these areas. All contract suppliers must comply with Medicare enrollment rules, be licensed and accredited, and meet financial standards. The program sets more appropriate payment amounts for DMEPOS items while ensuring continued access to quality items and services, which will result in reduced beneficiary out-of-pocket expenses and savings to taxpayers and the Medicare program.

Under the MMA, the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program was to be phased in so that competition under the program would first occur in 10 areas in 2007. As required by law, CMS conducted the Round One competition in 10 areas and for 10 DMEPOS product categories, and successfully implemented the program on July 1, 2008, for two weeks before the contracts were terminated by subsequent law.

The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) temporarily delayed the program in 2008, terminated the Round One contracts that were in effect, and made other limited changes. As required by MIPPA, CMS conducted the supplier competition again in 2009, referring to it as the Round One Rebid. On January 1, 2011, CMS launched the first phase of Medicare's competitive bidding program in nine different areas of the country for nine product categories.

MIPPA also required the competition for Round Two to occur in 2011 in 70 additional metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and authorizes competition for national mail order items and services after 2010. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 expanded the number of Round Two MSAs from 70 to 91 areas and mandates that all areas of the country are subject either to DMEPOS competitive bidding or payment rate adjustments using competitively bid rates by 2016.

CMS is required by law to recompete contracts for the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program at least once every three years. The Round One Rebid contract period for all product categories except mail-order diabetic supplies expires on December 31, 2013. CMS is conducting the Round One Recompete in the same competitive bidding areas as the Round One Rebid.