Friday, January 11, 2008

List of 70 New Medicare Bidding Areas Spurs Efforts to Ensure Fairness and Access

The American Association for Homecare urged its members to ramp-up efforts to encourage members of Congress to cosponsor the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment Access Act of 2007 (H.R. 1845 in the U.S. House of Representatives) and (S. 1428 in the U.S. Senate). With the January 8, 2008 announcement of 70 additional metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) where round two of the Medicare competitive bidding program will be implemented, providers in many states are reinforcing the fact that this program will reduce access to care for local patients and will harm many of the providers in these 70 areas. Unless Congress enacts the common-sense changes in H.R. 1845 and S. 1428. For the list of 70 new MSAs, see The list of ZIP Codes for each MSA will be made available at a later date, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Tanner-Hobson bill (H.R. 1845) currently has 158 cosponsors. The bill makes changes to the competitive bidding structure in order to ensure beneficiaries’ access to durable medical equipment (DME) is maintained, to protect small providers of quality DME items, therapies, and services, and to foster a dynamic marketplace for Medicare-reimbursed DME. A related Senate bill, Hatch-Conrad-Roberts (S. 1428), has 15 cosponsors at this time.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette and Chattanooga Times Free Press, as well as other newspapers reported on the news of the 70 MSAs with stories that discussed the downside of competitive bidding in terms of access to care and impact on small businesses.

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