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 http://www.wsoctv.com/seenon9/26778895/detail.html.