Congressional Delegation Asks For Details On Medicare Policy "That Violates Tennessee Law And Harms Tennessee Businesses"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Members of the Tennessee United States Congressional delegation today called on the administration "to provide details on its policy of awarding Medicare contracts to businesses not licensed in Tennessee, a violation of the administration’s bid policy and a violation of Tennessee state law."

The members write: “We recently received reports that Medicare awarded DME (Durable Medical Equipment) contracts in Tennessee to suppliers not licensed to serve Medicare beneficiaries in the state. CMS clearly states in the ‘Request for Bids,’ a document that spells out the rules for suppliers to initially compete, that ‘every supplier location is responsible for having all applicable license(s) for each state in which it provides services.’ Nonetheless, CMS has awarded contracts to suppliers without a license in Tennessee. Tennessee law requires a physical location in the state as a prerequisite to obtaining a license to provide medical equipment.”

Durable medical equipment includes products that are intended for at-home care of sick or injured individuals. The category includes wheelchairs, crutches, blood pressure monitors, and hospital beds.

The Tennessee delegation, led in the effort by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood), called for the administration to provide a plan of action “to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries in Tennessee will have robust options to receive DME when they need it and that all companies supplying Medicare beneficiaries in Tennessee will be properly licensed to operate in the state.”

The letter is signed by Senators Alexander and Bob Corker (R-Tn.) and Representatives Blackburn, Phil Roe (R-Johnson City), John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Knoxville), Chuck Fleischmann (R- Ooltewah), Scott DesJarlais, (R-Jasper), Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), Diane Black (R-Gallatin), and Steve Cohen (D-Memphis).

The full text of the letter is below:

Marilyn Tavenner

Acting Administrator

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington DC 20201

Dear Acting Administrator Tavenner:

We write today to express our concern about the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) policy of allowing non-licensed Durable Medical Equipment (DME) providers to win Medicare contracts to supply DME products in Tennessee even though they do not comply with state licensure law. We request your plan of action to ensure all Medicare beneficiaries in Tennessee affected by the DME Competitive Bidding Program will have timely access to physician ordered supplies and necessary services.

Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville metropolitan statistical areas are included in the Round 2 expansion of the DME competitive bidding program. We recently received reports that Medicare awarded DME contracts in Tennessee to suppliers not licensed to serve Medicare beneficiaries in the state. CMS clearly states in the “Request for Bids,” a document that spells out the rules for suppliers to initially compete, that “every supplier location is responsible for having all applicable license(s) for each state in which it provides services.” Nonetheless, CMS has awarded contracts to suppliers without a license in Tennessee. Tennessee law requires a physical location in the state as a prerequisite to obtaining a license to provide medical equipment.

Since these bids came from providers not licensed in Tennessee, their ability to serve Medicare beneficiaries skewed the bidding process and should not have been included, nor should their bid prices have been included to determine median pricing for affected product categories. We are concerned that when this program goes into effect on July 1, 2013, there will not be enough licensed companies contracted by Medicare to supply DME products to Medicare beneficiaries in Tennessee. Tennesseans need to have timely access to these important life sustaining supplies from a business licensed by the state of Tennessee.

We request your plan of action to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries in Tennessee will have robust options to receive DME when they need it and that all companies supplying Medicare beneficiaries in Tennessee will be properly licensed to operate in the state. Please also include the number of companies that were awarded a contract and were licensed in Tennessee at the time of award, the capacity those companies already licensed will be able to serve on July 1st, the number of unlicensed awardees who have a physical presence in Tennessee, and the number of unlicensed companies that bid below the median bid price. We request a reply by June 3, 2013. We are happy to furnish additional information or please feel free to have your staff contact Alicia Hennie in Sen. Alexander’s office at 224-0623 or Keith Studdard with Rep. Blackburn at 225-3469.


Man Shot On East Henderson Drive; Suspect Sought

Chattanooga Police responded to 740 East Henderson Drive at approximately 9:02 p.m. on Thursday for a person shot.  Officers located a black male victim who was suffering from a single gunshot wound to the chest. According to witnesses, the victim was in a physical altercation with multiple parties when a suspect fired at the victim striking him in the chest. The victim ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ACUFF, BRANDY DANIELLE     1705 EAST 26TH STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37407     29     Chattanooga          VIOLATION OF PROBATION (THEFT UNDER $500) ANDRES, SYLVESTER G     3112 SPRING CREEK ROAD CHATTANOOGA, 37412    ... (click for more)

State Moving Forward In Educational Improvements

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education released the following statement from President and CEO Jamie Woodson regarding the 2014 legislative session in Tennessee and HB1549/SB1835, which passed the General Assembly Thursday: After a year of extensive public and legislative conversation regarding higher academic standards and related strategies to improve student learning, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Some Really Funny Tweets

I am not on Twitter so I don’t tweet. Difficulties with my right hand don’t even allow me to text and when you blend in the fact I am now a bonafide senior citizen, it is ample reason for me to live a life where I am lacking in what otherwise might be achieved through social networking. Twitter has done real well without me. It is one of the 10 most visited websites in the world; ... (click for more)

Soddy-Daisy Uses Eight-Run Inning To Subdue Lincoln County, 13-3

An early two-run deficit meant nothing to Soddy-Daisy’s baseball team Thursday night. Catcher Dillon Clift and pitcher Andy Wright each hit two-run homers, Tre Carter stole home and Soddy-Daisy scored eight runs in the second inning en route to a 13-3 win over Lincoln County in the Trojan Classic at Tom Higgins Field. “We’ve given up a few of those,” Trojans coach Jared Hensley ... (click for more)

Lady Mocs Softball Hosts MTSU

The Chattanooga Mocs softball team is set to host in-state rival Middle Tennessee Friday and Saturday at Frost Stadium in a non-conference two-game set.  The Good Friday game is set to begin 5 p.m. with Saturday’s finale starting at Noon. Chattanooga is currently 24-17 with a 9-5 Southern Conference mark – just 2.5 games back of SoCon leading Georgia Southern – while Middle ... (click for more)