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.


Corker Strongly Encourages Marco Rubio To Seek Re-Election

In response to reports that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is facing increasing pressure to seek re-election to the upper chamber, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement. “Marco Rubio is a very valuable member of the Senate – especially in his role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where ... (click for more)

Gobert Convicted Of Murder In Shooting Outside Step-Daughter's Trailer Home

A Walker County trial jury convicted Michael James Gobert of felony murder, aggravated assault and multiple other counts related to an Oct. 19, 2015 incident on Straight Gut Road in Rock Springs. District Attorney Buzz Franklin said, "On that date in the late evening hours, Gobert heard voices arguing at the single-wide trailer residence of Nicole Carroll, his step-daughter. ... (click for more)

Case Handled Like Any Other? - And Response

It is interesting that Chief Fletcher would deem the handling of the Mayor's encounter as typical or normal. Is the Chief asking the public to believe that all misdemeanor domestic violence arrests include a 4-hour taped interrogation, and delayed reporting after a visit to the Chief’s house. Of course, we believe that Chief Fletcher. April Eidson * * *  I ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Best Speech This Year

Just 24 hours after Donovan Livingston gave The Student’s Speech at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education convocation on Wednesday, it had been viewed over 3 million times and shared 75,000 times on Facebook. It is already considered, far and away, as the freshest view on race and education in ages and its viral journey is burning across the Internet. His talk was ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats GPS Again For Second Straight D-II Title

MURFREESBORO – Baylor coach Kelli Smith was feeling no pain here at the Starplex Field No. 3 Friday afternoon after her team had beaten GPS by a 9-1 final for its second-straight D-II state softball crown, but that wasn’t the case late Thursday night. Smith, who now has two state titles as a Baylor player and eight as their coach, spent more than three hours in the local emergency ... (click for more)

Meigs Bounces Back, Beats Silverdale, 8-5, For State Class A Softball Title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Either Meigs County or Silverdale was going home with a state championship trophy on Friday. Pushed to the limit by the spunky Lady Seahawks in a 6-0 loss – all six runs were unearned – the Lady Tigers responded in the Class A championship game with an 8-5 victory and claimed the school’s first state softball title. “I’m on top of the world,” Meigs ... (click for more)