Monday, May 4, 2009

American Medical News Reports White House Gives Green Light on Medicare DME bidding program

Despite the home medical equipment sectors deep concerns over the flawed competitive bidding program, the American Medical News reports that the Obama Administration has giving the “green light” for CMS to conduct the program, which will start in 2010.

The White House delayed the effective date of the interim final rule for the program in February this year, but CMS announced the April 18 effective date would not be delayed further. This decision allows the agency to begin re-bidding for Round One of the program in 9 metropolitan statistical areas.

"We are very disappointed that CMS has moved forward with this program without allowing more opportunity to examine it. As designed, the program will eliminate approximately 90% of suppliers in any marketplace. We believe that is unacceptable, especially when all efforts by the [Obama] administration and Congress are aimed at job promotion and creation," Walter Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare, told American Medical News.

If Congress had not stopped the program in July of 2008, it would have limited Medicare coverage of selected equipment in 10 metropolitan areas to suppliers that submitted winning bids.

Despite the final rule, CMS said it will have no immediate effect on how Medicare patients obtain durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies. Beneficiaries may still use current suppliers.

Gorski said suppliers will continue to work with Congress on legislation to repeal the program, and they are hopeful that its language will be included in any health system reform bill that might be introduced this year. "We remain cautiously optimistic that we can show this program will not yield the results anticipated."

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