Tuesday, May 27, 2008

125 U.S. Representatives and Cleveland Plain Dealer Urge Delay in Bidding

125 U.S. Representatives and Cleveland Plain Dealer Urge Delay in Bidding
What do 160 homecare advocates do when they descend on the nation’s capital? Collect signatures from as many U.S. Representatives as possible to help delay competitive bidding and continue educating members of Congress on the issues the industry is facing. This was one of the objectives of the May 21 Medicare Bidding Fly-In, organized by the American Association for Homecare.

Thursday, May 22 was the deadline for getting Representatives in the House to sign on to a letter urging a one-year delay in the bidding program for home medical equipment. The sign-on letter stated, “Our overall concern is focused on the implementation of the program thus far and its implications for Medicare beneficiaries receiving high quality health care.”

Efforts to get signatures included visits on Capitol Hill, calls, and e-mails. Unofficial numbers show more than 125 U.S. Representatives agreed to sign on to the letter – which is a terrific accomplishment for a one-week timeline.

Also on May 21, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Rural and Urban Entrepreneurship held a hearing on “Competitive Bidding for Durable Medical Equipment.” Small providers representing the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare), the North Carolina Association for Medical Equipment Services (NCAMES), and VGM were among the organizations that presented testimony. Casey Hite, vice president of Aeroflow Healthcare in Asheville, North Carolina spoke on behalf of AAHomecare and NCAMES saying, “The Medicare bidding program is poorly conceived and fundamentally flawed. The program is showing many of the serious breakdowns that the American Association for Homecare predicted, based on the failure of CMS to recognize and account for the way that home medical equipment is provided to Medicare beneficiaries.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SircttIXVIw&feature=PlayList&p=0DAE30FDF52E37FC&index=17)

To hear testimony from this hearing visit: http://www.house.gov/smbiz/

An editorial on Sunday, May 18, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer which endorsed a delay in the Medicare bidding program, also helped fuel momentum. While taking the view that the competitive bidding may be the shape of things to come in Medicare, the editorial stated that, “A delay, at least, in awarding contracts is warranted. A thorough review should cover whether the specifications for suppliers are reasonable, whether the bidding, selection and appeals processes are fair, and whether streamlining to suit the government also serves patients well enough.”

The text of the editorial can be found at: http://www.cleveland.com/editorials/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1211044516121880.xml&coll=2.

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