Thursday, April 21, 2011

American Medical News reports delay of second round of Medicare equipment bidding

“The agency overseeing the Medicare program has delayed the second round of a durable medical equipment bidding program that was set to expand the initiative to 91 areas in the U.S.” The American Medical News explained that the announcement came during the April 5 Program Advisory and Oversight Committee meeting. The updated timeline shows bidding will “open soon after the start of 2012 and close in the spring of that year. CMS subsequently will announce the suppliers that have secured contracts for 2013.”

The article quotes Congressman Altmire, who co-introduced the bill with Rep. Thompson, "CMS' decision to delay round two of the competitive bidding program shows that even it acknowledges that this program is seriously flawed," said Rep. Jason Altmire (D, Pa.). "The truth is that no matter how CMS tries to tweak its competitive bidding program, it will continue to be a fundamentally bad deal for our nation's seniors and small businesses."

Altmire and Rep. Glenn Thompson (R, Pa.) said the delay is in response to a bill they have offered to repeal DME competitive bidding. They argue that the process squeezes out smaller suppliers and eliminates beneficiary choice. The bill, the Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act, had 75 co-sponsors at this article's deadline. It would offset the estimated savings from competitive bidding by directing the Obama administration to find roughly $20 billion in unspent funds elsewhere in the budget.

To read the full article, click here.

Medical equipment firms back bill to repeal bidding, Crain’s Detroit Business

A Crain’s Detroit Business article, published on April 10, outlined how home medical equipment (HME) companies in Michigan support H.R. 1041, a bill to repeal Medicare's competitive bidding program. The HME businesses feel this legislation “will prevent many of the companies from losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue or going out of business.”

The article goes on to state that “’This program, which will put local home care providers out of business, will limit who Medicare beneficiaries can turn to for service,’ said Robert Binson, chairman of the Lansing-based Michigan Independent Providers Association, one of the groups that support the bill. The program forces patients into longer, more expensive hospital stays, which raises Medicare costs, said Binson, also president of Binson's Home Health Centers in Center Line.”

“While the regulation is intended as a Medicare cost-containment device, it could force 90 percent of the 500 Michigan home health supply vendors out of business, costing the state hundreds of jobs, several company executives have told Crain's.”

To read the full article, click here. (Free registration required)