Round 2021: Providers do their homework

They say they’ve taken full advantage of industry website, summits and calculators
Friday, July 12, 2019

YARMOUTH, Maine – When the bid window for Round 2021 opens this week, providers say they’ll be more prepared than in previous rounds.

“We’re all veterans of it— if anyone was approaching bidding for the first time, I’d be surprised—and I think they’ve simplified the process,” said Bob Fournier, owner of Germantown, Tenn.-based Integrity Home Medical.

Round 2021, which CMS first announced in July 2018, includes big changes, in particular the implementation of lead-item pricing.

With stakes high, industry groups like AAHomecare and VGM have pulled out all the stops to educate providers to “bid smart,” offering in-person educational summits, webcasts and a competitive bidding website,, all of which providers say they have taken full advantage of in recent months.

“We went to the VGM summit in Charlotte,” said Andrew Trammell, president of Carolina’s HME in Charlotte, N.C. “We got a great grasp on the mechanics of the new system. The more people that understand how this works, the better off we’ll all be.”

One game changer for providers: bid calculators, which both CMS and industry stakeholders have created to help providers navigate lead-item pricing.

“It’s an absolute must to use that thing,” said Craig Rae,

owner of Penrod Medical Equipment in Salisbury, N.C. “If you don’t, you are headed for disaster and probably disaster for the industry.”

The bid window is open from July 16 to Sept. 18. Providers land across the spectrum as to when they plan to submit their bids.

“I like to wait for a rainy Saturday and then spend several hours in the office,” Rae said. “Because of the calculator, it will take me one-tenth of the time, because I don’t have to go through all of the items, comparing costs and looking at all the vendors.”

Provider Chris Rice says he’s been “on top of things” since the final rule on Round 2021 was released in November.

“I’ll have a bid in as soon as the window opens,” said Rice, CEO of Diamond Respiratory Services in Riverside, Calif. “But I’ll keep the bid open and probably continue to modify it and tweak it up until the bid window closes.”