Competitive Acquisition Ombudsman (CAO)
All Medicare Round 2021 Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, & Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) Contracts for Off-the-Shelf (OTS) back braces and OTS knee braces expire on December 31, 2023. Starting January 1, 2024, there will be a temporary gap in the DMEPOS CBP.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services plans to conduct bidding for the next round of the DMEPOS CBP after going through notice and comment rulemaking to further strengthen the DMEPOS CBP.
For additional information on the gap period, please see the Temporary Gap Period (PDF) fact sheet and continue to monitor the CMS.gov and Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) websites for updates.
Helping to resolve your complaint or inquiry
The CAO is charged with responding to complaints and inquiries from beneficiaries and suppliers about the application of the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program. The CAO also facilitates program improvements by working with other CMS components to identify potential systemic issues.
This page is for suppliers, beneficiaries, caregivers, referral agents, and other individuals participating in the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program.
See the CAO frequently asked questions for more information.
On This Page:
- About the CAO
- About the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program
- Beneficiary Rights and Protections
- Beneficiary/Caregiver Guidance
- Beneficiaries: What to do if you have a complaint or inquiry
- Supplier Guidance: What to do if you have a complaint or inquiry
The CAO’s vision is to provide timely responses to individual and supplier complaints and inquiries, in addition to providing the Agency with complaint and inquiry data that can be used to improve the Competitive Bidding Program. As an ombudsman, the CAO also works with other areas of CMS to identify potential systemic issues with the goal of helping CMS ensure beneficiaries have access to, and suppliers provide high-quality DMEPOS items and services. The CAO also provides an annual report to Congress. See the Downloads section of this page for a list of the published reports.
The DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program has reduced costs of durable medical equipment and supplies while ensuring that beneficiaries continue to receive quality items and services. The Program applies to a select category of supplies and services known as Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies or "DMEPOS." For more information about the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program, see the Durable Medical Equipment Center and Medicare Learning Network’s fact sheet on the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program (PDF) . To learn more about the Program’s quality standards, see the Medicare Learning Network's Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies Quality Standards booklet (PDF) .
All Medicare beneficiaries including those covered by the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program have certain rights and protections. You can find more information about your rights and protections in the following:
- Supplier Quality Standards and Beneficiary Protections Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Your Guide to Medicare’s Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program
If you are looking for a supplier to provide your needed DMEPOS items or services, and you need contact information for a supplier or need to choose a supplier, see the Medicare Supplier Directory.
If you have a problem getting needed DMEPOS items or services or if you are concerned about the quality of the supplies and services you are receiving, there are several ways that you can get help.
- Contact your supplier. If you already have your DMEPOS item(s) but are having problems getting needed supplies or services, you should first contact your supplier. Your supplier:
• Must provide regular business hours and after-hour access telephone number(s).
• Is obligated to acknowledge your complaint and respond to you.
• Must let you know they received your complaint and are investigating it within 5 calendar days.
• Must send you the result of your complaint and provide his or her response in writing within 14 calendar days.
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE. 1-800-633-4227 to get help. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, say “Agent” to talk to a customer service representative.
- Contact the CAO. If you have contacted the supplier and 1-800 MEDICARE, but still need help, ask the 1-800-MEDICARE representative to submit your complaint or inquiry to the CAO. The CAO helps to ensure that your complaint/inquiry is resolved.
- Contact the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) via email, telephone, or postal mail. CBIC customer service representatives are prepared to resolve your complaints/inquiries.
- If you have contacted the CBIC, but still need help, the CBIC representative may submit your complaint or inquiry to the CAO.
- Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) Helpful Links
- Competitive Bidding Fact Sheet (PDF)
- MLN Article "Complying with Medical Record Documentation Requirements (PDF)
- Training for disaster responders, emergency staff, and state and regional offices
DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program Fact Sheets (PDF)
2017-2019 Report to Congress - Medicare Competitive Acquisition Ombudsman (PDF)
2012-2016 Report to Congress - Medicare Competitive Acquisition Ombudsman (PDF)