Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Representatives Altmire and Thompson Address the Value of Homecare and the Importance of Eliminating the Flawed Bidding Program

During a call with the media this week, U.S. Representatives Jason Altmire (D-PA-04) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA-05) voiced support for H.R. 3790, a bill that would eliminate the bid program and at the same time reduce Medicare spending, preserve access to quality homecare, and save thousands of small businesses. The bill, introduced by Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-FL, on October 13th, has already gathered strong bipartisan support from 70 members of Congress, and numerous national disability groups.

“CMS’s competitive bidding program was flawed from the beginning, and unfortunately it is has not improved over time,” U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire (PA-04) said. “There is still ample reason to believe that CMS’s competitive bidding program would greatly hurt small businesses and make it harder for seniors to obtain the specialized medical equipment that they need. The common sense legislation we have proposed would eliminate this flawed program and protect seniors and small businesses without adding one penny to the federal deficit.”

“Competitive bidding, as CMS has framed it, is anything but competitive,” said U.S. Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-5). “Looking at savings solely on a balance sheet is not a smart government solution. If the number of smaller home providers of durable medical equipment declines, I’m concerned that more home care patients will need to be hospitalized, particularly in rural areas because of their distance from one of the massive contract holders. CMS should be working to keep homebound Medicare recipients in their homes—the quality of life is better for the patient and will involve an overall cost savings to Medicare.”

The Congressmen were joined on the call by Lucy Spruill, Director of Public Policy and Community Relations, United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh; Georgie Blackburn, VP Government Relations and Legislative Affairs, BLACKBURN'S, and John Shirvinsky, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers.

“As a power wheelchair consumer, I am very concerned about the small number of providers that will be available as a result of competitive bidding,” said Lucy Spruill, Director of Public Policy and Community Relations, United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh. “We already experience long waits between ordering equipment and actual delivery. This will take a very bad situation and make it intolerable. Medicare needs to be concerned with secondary conditions that may arise due to fewer providers being available to serve our needs. Bed sores, pneumonia and depression due to longer stays in the house are all very costly conditions for the Medicare system to treat.”

To learn more about the Representatives support of this bill and conversation with the media, visit the AAHomecare Newsroom. H.R. 3790 has 70 cosponsors as of November 18, 2009.

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