CMS expands competitive bidding for DMEPOS to 70 new markets
BALTIMORE —At the beginning of the year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services named 70 new metropolitan statistical areas that will be part of the second phase of a competitive bidding program designed to help lower Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs and improve their access to certain durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.
The list includes several major big-city drug store markets, including Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York, and will bring the total number of MSAs in the competitive bidding program to 80.
The second round of the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding program also includes eight of the top DMEPOS product categories, including oxygen supplies and equipment, standard power wheel-chairs, scooters and related accessories, complex rehabilitative power wheelchairs and related accessories, enteral nutrients (feeding tubes), equipment and supplies, CPAP devices (usually prescribed to treat sleep apnea) and respiratory-assistance devices, hospital beds and related accessories, negative pressure wound therapy pumps and related supplies and walkers.
DME retailers and suppliers will need to meet quality standards established by CMS and be accredited by one of 10 organizations chosen by Medicare. CMS anticipates beginning the pre-bidding activities of the second phase of the program in spring 2008.
The final deadline for all suppliers to obtain an initial accreditation is Sept. 30, 2009. However, suppliers that want to participate in this second phase of the competitive bidding program will have to be accredited well in advance of that deadline to be awarded a contract with CMS, the agency stated.
“I cannot stress enough the importance for all Part B DMEPOS suppliers to apply for accreditation early, and not wait until Sept. 30, 2009,” cautioned Kerry Weems, CMS acting administrator. “Suppliers considering participating in the second phase of the competitive bidding program should apply for accreditation immediately,” he said.
“Competitive bidding means that Medicare beneficiaries will have access to these products at substantially lower costs,” Weems said. “Since all successful bidders will be required to meet quality standards and be accredited by Medicare, people with Medicare in these 70 new areas can be assured of access, low prices and high quality. Through this accreditation process, our beneficiaries are also provided another layer of protection from fraud.”
Under the competitive bidding program, retailers that wish to offer durable medical equipment—including walkers, automated wheelchairs and other assisted-living devices—and services to people with Medicare will have to submit bids to CMS, indicating the prices at which they are willing to supply these items to beneficiaries.
Currently Medicare—and beneficiaries—pay for items based on a fee schedule that, in general, is based on the average payments Medicare has paid for DMEPOS items in the past. Although the fee schedule is updated annually, CMS believes it is not representative of the true market prices of these items and services. Most beneficiaries pay 20 percent of the total cost for these items and services, and should expect to see savings from this program because when the total cost decreases, beneficiaries’ co-insurance also decreases.
Once the competitive bidding program is fully implemented nationally, it is expected to save beneficiaries and Medicare $1 billion annually, CMS stated.
Sturken to celebrate his fifth year at Spartan by ringing NASDAQ bell
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores’ chairman and chief executive officer Craig Sturken is slated to ring the NASDAQ opening bell on March 3 in celebration of his fifth anniversary leading Spartan, the company announced Thursday.
“It is an honor to ring the opening NASDAQ bell in celebration of our fifth successful year since transforming into a consumer-centric organization and refocusing our business on our core distribution and retail operations,” Sturken stated. “We have been in the grocery business for more than 90 years and this is our eighth year as a public company, which is marked by our ability to develop and execute successful business strategies in a highly competitive market.”
Unilever to reorganize company structure
LONDON Unilever, whose brands include Axe, Sunsilk and Dove, has announced that it is restructuring the company and combining its home and personal care segment and food segment into a single category structure.
Ralph Kugler, president of home and personal care, will step down in May at the Annual General Meetings after 29 years of service. The roles of president of home and personal care and president of foods will be merged under the leadership of Vindi Banga, currently president of foods.
To reflect the company’s focus on growth in developing markets, Central and Eastern Europe will be managed within an enlarged region comprised of Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. Western Europe will become a standalone region.
In other moves, Kees van der Graaf will retire in May from the Unilever board and from his role as president of Europe after a 32-year career with Unilever.
Harish Manwani, currently president of Asia/Africa, will lead the new expanded region. Doug Baillie will serve as president of Western Europe, having previously served as chief executive officer of Hindustan Unilever.
“These measures build naturally on the changes of recent years and give us an organizational structure even better placed to advance our growth agenda. At the same time, I want to express my deep appreciation to Kees and Ralph for the significant contribution they have made over long and distinguished years,” stated Patrick Cescau, group chief executive.
In addition, James Lawrence, currently chief financial officer, will be proposed in May for election as an executive director of Unilever. This change will mean that the Unilever board will be comprised of two executive directors and 11 non-executives.