Thursday, February 17, 2011

Provider Speaks Out against Bid Program in Birmingham News

For Medicare patients in the Birmingham, Alabama area, the program means the elimination of approximately 90 percent of their choice in local providers, wrote Larry Snyder, branch manager for St. Vincent's Home Medical Services in Birmingham. His letter to the editor explained that the new Medicare competitive bidding program will cost Birmingham residents jobs and threaten small businesses, which make up 85 percent of home medical equipment companies.

"Contracting creates the likelihood that patients will be required to seek essential products and services from multiple providers; overwhelmed providers will be unable to deliver services at the levels beneficiaries have grown accustomed to. The program threatens access to quality care for those who rely on medically necessary equipment to keep them in the comfort of their home. Competitive bidding will lead to more hospital stays and emergency-room visits, costing Medicare more than what it claims to save with this program."

Read more of Snyder's letter to the editor by clicking here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

KC Business Journal Discusses Negative Effects of Medicare bidding program

Kansas City Business Journal Health reporter Aly Van Dyke’s story on the complications of the Medicare bidding program reports that 48 of the 164 companies in Kansas City that applied received contracts to continue to sell durable medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries. “Medicare awarded contracts to companies that bid the lowest prices. Because previous fee schedules reflected historical prices adjusted for inflation, current prices could be as much as three to four times the current retail prices, according to studies from the Office of the Inspector General and the General Accounting Office.

‘Our government is telling us that it is focusing on job creation and the health and well-being of Americans, but this competitive bidding system does nothing to aid either of these two priorities,’ Rose Schafhauser, executive director of Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services, said in the release. ‘Competitive bidding is a job-killing program that is forcing small businesses around the country to close and is putting people out of work. As a result, it is taking away patients’ basic right to choose where and from whom they can or can’t get care and services.”

While homecare businesses are reeling from the effects of the program, their patients are also suffering. “Since the implementation of the competitive bidding program, the American Association for Homecare has logged more than 175 complaints from seniors and health care providers.

“Seniors report difficulty finding equipment locally, delays in getting medically required equipment and longer hospital stays, the association says. Providers claim that the program limits patient choices. And some contract winners say hospital discharge employees are referring patients only to companies that received multiple contracts, rather than those that won one or two for different supplies.”

Read the full story at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ABC Affiliate in Charlotte, NC Looks at Limits Placed on Medicare Patients Due to Bidding

About a quarter-million people in the Charlotte area are Medicare patients, and many of them have been or will be affected by a new system that significantly limits their provider choices for certain services, reported an ABC affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina. The story which aired on Channel 9 this week, explained that members of Congress, caretakers and patients are already raising red flags, claiming the new system is flawed.

Starting Jan. 1, 2011, Medicare patients were required to use companies that won bids in Charlotte's competitive bidding system. If they don't, Medicare won't pay for their services. Medical equipment providers competed in nine categories, including CPAP machines and other equipment, like wheelchairs. Companies with the lowest bids won the right to keep providing equipment and services to Medicare patients. If a company didn't win certain bids, its patients were out of luck.

Bill Griffin of Griffin Home Health Care said he laid off eight employees after winning only one bid, which was for oxygen equipment.

"We can't sell Medicare walkers anymore," he said. "The providers that bid, bid such low prices that it's not only suicide for the industry but the companies involved. I think there is a world of companies that will go out of business."

Eyewitness News went through the list of more than 200 bid contracts and found that Medicare awarded more than half of the contracts to providers outside the Charlotte market. Some are in places like Goleta, Calif., and Naperville, Ill., but are providing services and equipment to people in Charlotte.

Medicare set up a toll-free number for patients to call with complaints and concerns. It’s 888-990-0499.

To view the full segment, or read the transcript, visit

Register Today: Join Your Colleagues at the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference

Fight for HME: Join Your Colleagues at the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference

Westin Washington DC City Center Hotel
March 16-17, 2011 – Register today!

Don’t miss your chance to promote and protect the future of homecare. Attend the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference March 16-17 and join with colleagues on Capitol Hill to make the case for HME.

With 13 new Senators and 94 new Representatives in the 112th Congress, this year's legislative conference provides a unique opportunity for HME community to educate this large group of new legislators, while strengthening important relationships with veteran members of Congress.

Registration rates have been reduced up to 30% from last years conference – discount vs. 2010 rates noted in parentheses below. Register by February 9 for greatest savings. Click here to register.

Early Bird Rate Program Registration Rate through February 9, 2011:
■ AAHomecare Members -- $195 (30% discount compared to 2010)
■ Non-Members -- $305 (19%)

After February 9, 2011:
■ AAHomecare Members -- $245 (25%)
■ Non-Members -- $355 (17%)

Reserve your room at the Westin Washington, DC City Center by Feb. 20 to receive special rate of $249/night, single/double occupancy – your reservations at 1-800-WESTIN-1 (937-8461) or 1-888-627-9035.

Many participants should be able to shorten their stay to ONE night thanks to the condensed schedule of events.

Wednesday, March 16

7:30 am – 9:00 am – Continental Breakfast with Exhibitors – sponsored by Medtrade

7:30 am – 5:45 pm – HME Manufacturers Exhibits
– Representatives from HME manufacturers and other suppliers to the industry will be exhibiting their products and services during the Welcome Reception.

9:30 – 11:00 am – Advisory Council Meetings – Complex Rehab & Mobility Council and State Leaders' Advisory Council meetings scheduled

11:45 am – 5:00 pm – Legislative Conference General Session

Currently confirmed speakers include:
  • Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA)
  • Representative Tom Price (R-GA)
  • Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA)
  • Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
Other House and Senate policymakers and staff will also share their insights on the legislative and regulatory landscape in Washington and how issues critical to the HME community (competitive bidding, oxygen reimbursement and reform, power mobility, medical supplies, anti-fraud and abuse initiatives) will be affected by healthcare reform, Medicare legislation and other Capitol Hill activity.

AAHomecare legislative staff and other lobbying and communications experts will brief attendees on the HME issues that are to be discussed the following day on Capitol Hill. Issue papers and talking points will be distributed. Industry experts will discuss the many facets of the HME issues that will be the focus of lobbying efforts when attendees visit the House and Senate offices on Wednesday. There will also be a sessions on effective lobbying and communications techniques.

AAHomecare Annual Business Meeting – All AAHomecare member companies will want to participate in the annual business meeting during which directors for the organization’s board will be elected.

5:00 – 5:45 pm – Legislative Conference Welcome Reception

6:00 – 8:00 pm – AAHomecare Political Action Committee (PAC) Reception – Political contributions to lawmakers from trade association PACs are a critical tool in effective lobbying in Washington, DC. This event will allow attendees an opportunity to support AAHomecare’s PAC. (Personal contributions only, no corporate contributions permitted.) Special thanks to Invacare for their support of this event.

Thursday, March 17

7:00 8:00 am Continental Breakfast

8:00 – 9:00 am – Capitol Hill Day General Session & Send-off

9:30 am – 4:00 pm – Capitol Hill Appointments
– With the help of pre-set appointments, courtesy of the VGM appointments concierge, attendees should be able to visit all of their key House and Senate offices.

In between appointments, attendees can get refreshments, pull up a chair, complete their Hill visit appointment forms or adjust their meeting schedule by stopping by the Bolton Room at the Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE, Washington DC, between 10:30 am and 3:00 pm. The Club is diagonally across the Cannon House Office Building.

4:30 – 5:30 pm Capitol Hill Reception (Capitol—House-side, Room TBD)

Register for the Legislative Conference today! Contact Ashley Wyatt at with any questions or special requests.

Special thanks to our exhibitors and sponsors:
Industry Supporters: HME NewsHomeCare MondayMobility ManagementRespiratory & Sleep Management

For information on sponsoring or exhibiting at this event, please contact Cheryl Bass-Briscoe at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

MK Battery Helps to Fund Advocacy Efforts at AAHomecare, NCART, NRRTS

AAHomecare member MK Battery conducted a “Power for Funding” campaign designed to “provide a financial boost to those national advocacy groups that are working tirelessly to navigate the industry through the current healthcare crisis.”

The Power for Funding program offered to contribute $1 for every MK Gel battery sold to HME providers in the U.S. during a six month period, to be divided equally among AAHomecare, NCART and NRRTS. During the six month campaign, the program brought in a total of nearly $75,000.

MK Battery’s HME Category Manager Dennis Sharpe stated, “We were delighted with the high level of provider participation and interest, and proud to support our industry advocates with this initiative.”

AAHomecare President Tyler J. Wilson thanked MK Battery, stating, “We deeply appreciate MK Battery’s commitment and leadership, which help the Association to fight our near-term battles in Washington and help preserve the long-term health of the HME sector.”

For more information, visit

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Hill Healthwatch blog Reports on Bidding Train Wreck

The blog posting for February 1 reports- "War over bidding: One month since the beginning of Medicare's competitive bidding program for Durable Medical Equipment in nine metro areas, the American Association for Homecare says patients are reporting myriad problems.

Problems include difficulty finding a local equipment or service provider; delays in obtaining medically required equipment and services; longer than necessary hospital stays due to trouble discharging patients to home-based care; far fewer choices for patients when selecting equipment or providers; reduced quality; and confusing or incorrect information provided by Medicare."