Thursday, June 26, 2008

Response to NPR Marketplace Interview with David Leonhardt

AAHomecare's Response to the NPR Marketplace interview with David Leonhardt on June 25 follows:

Leonhardt failed to mention an extremely important point -- that the congressional proposal to reform the bidding program saves taxpayers billions of dollars. The proposal is fully paid for in terms of cuts that homecare providers would have to accept – a nationwide 9.5 percent payment reduction for the items subjected to bidding. That cut will save taxpayers every dollar that the flawed bidding system would have saved during the time that it takes to make some important improvements to the program.

Reform proponents in Congress want to fix a broken competitive bidding program that, unless improved, will eliminate thousands of qualified providers from Medicare even if they agree to the lower prices. We believe that will ultimately reduce competition and reduce services for the seniors and people with disabilities who require homecare and equipment.

The argument that Internet or Wal-Mart prices should serve as the basis for setting Medicare reimbursement for home medical equipment fails to grasp the service-intensive nature of homecare. That fuzzy thinking discounts the sharp reality that serving frail Medicare patients at home requires essential services that ensure quality of care and keep seniors out of nursing homes.

Finally, Leonhardt’s characterization of expressions of concern by the homecare community as “scare tactics” is ironic. How would you describe his assertion that if you don’t accept the current bidding program you therefore advocate a stifling of competition, higher prices, and obscene profits?

Your listeners deserve better than this type of one-dimensional commentary on an important issue.

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