New York Times
August 26, 2008
To the Editor:
In your Aug. 22 editorial “Medicare’s Claims,” you refer to the postponement by Congress of a new competitive bidding system for durable medical equipment. Such a system might sound great, but it does not serve or help people with disabilities. It can literally kill us.
Fraud is not good. But when a person with a disability needs a specific wheelchair, custom seating system or ventilator, you cannot award the right to supply some lesser-quality piece of equipment to the lowest bidder. That will only result in a greatly reduced quality of life — and possibly death — for that severely disabled person.
Moreover, surgical suppliers of such advanced and often custom equipment are already working on an extremely low profit margin. If the government starts awarding funds to the lowest bidder, it would reduce the ability of surgical suppliers to stay in business.
I use a $20,000 power chair for mobility and a $15,000 vent to breathe. This equipment has allowed me to drive, teach, write books and plays, and enjoy a full life. Allow competitive bidding, and I’d be using inferior equipment and my quality of life would be compromised.
To understand this complicated situation, you need to walk in our shoes — or live in our wheelchairs — for a while. Let’s reduce fraud. But let’s not destroy the equipment suppliers or people with disabilities in the process.
Levittown, N.Y., Aug.