Monday, December 19, 2011

Ask Your Representative and Senators to Include MPP in Legislation

As last week wound down, Congress averted another threatened government shutdown, passing an appropriations bill funding federal operations through September 2012.

Meanwhile, Senate leadership worked on a separate agreement to extend the payroll tax holiday, extend unemployment insurance protections and prevent a 27 percent cut in Medicare physician reimbursement (the “doc fix”). Earlier in the week, the House passed a payroll tax/UI/doc fix bill by a vote of 234-193. As we reported to AAHomecare members on Saturday, the Senate voted 89-10 to approve their own short-term package that would extend a payroll tax holiday and prevent for two months a reimbursement reduction for Medicare physicians. We have learned from Capitol Hill sources that House Republican leadership will reject the Senate legislation, and additional negotiations will be required to reach an agreement acceptable to both the House and Senate.

In any event, it remains vital that HME providers contact their Representative and Senators and strongly urge them to contact their respective leadership to ask that the MPP proposal be included in the final doc fix bill that is sent to the President.

Use our Take Action Center to quickly send a message to your members of Congress.

A full, section-by-section breakdown of the Market Pricing Program is available to our members (login required). A brief summary of the MPP is available to everyone.

You can reach your Representative and Senators’ office by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. If you have any questions or feedback from House staff, please contact Jay Witter at

Monday, December 12, 2011

AAHomecare Urges Congress to Enact Market-Based Alternative to Medicare’s Bidding Program for Home Medical Equipment

Sustainable Market Pricing Program Corrects Flaws in Current Bidding Program, Preserves Access to Home-Based Care for Millions of Americans

The American Association for Homecare urges Congress to enact the Market Pricing Program (MPP), a reform of Medicare’s pricing system that is an alternative to the controversial bidding scheme for durable medical equipment and services.

“As it’s currently designed, Medicare’s bidding system reduces choice, access, and quality of care for seniors and people with disabilities who require home medical equipment and services,” said Tyler J. Wilson, president of the American Association for Homecare. “It also discourages competition and ultimately increases healthcare costs. Our proposal, the Market Pricing Program, corrects numerous flaws in the current bidding program and features a financially sustainable auction system.”

The bidding program implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has deep flaws, which were described in a letter to Congress signed by 244 top economists and auction experts. The current bidding system allows for non-binding bids – which encourage irresponsible bids and unsustainable prices and do nothing to ensure that winning bidders are actually qualified to provide the products and services to Medicare beneficiaries in the specified market areas. Since the bidding program was implemented on January 1, 2011, hundreds of Medicare patients have reported difficulty finding local equipment or service providers, delays in obtaining medically required equipment and services, and fewer choices when selecting equipment or providers.

The Market Pricing Program is based on recommendations by economists and auction experts in the field who have studied the current program. MPP features an auction system to establish market-based prices around the country and would require Medicare to make fundamental changes to ensure the long-term viability of the pricing program. Key components are:
  • The Market Pricing Program is designed to achieve an accurate market price.
  • Bids are binding for the bidders and cash deposits are required to ensure that only serious homecare providers participate.
  • The bid price is based on the clearing price, not the median price of winners.
  • The program includes the same equipment and services as the current bidding system and would be implemented across the country during the same timeframe.
  • Two product categories per market area would be bid. Eight additional product categories in that same area would have prices reduced based on auctions conducted simultaneously in comparable geographic areas.
  • Bid areas are smaller geographically than the currently used bidding units (metropolitan statistical areas) and are more homogeneous.
In addition to the 244 economists, more than two dozen consumer and disability groups, 165 members of Congress, and the National Federation of Independent Business oppose Medicare’s current competitive bidding system.

The American Association for Homecare represents durable medical equipment providers, manufacturers, and others in the homecare community that serve the medical needs of millions of Americans who require oxygen systems, wheelchairs, medical supplies, inhalation drug therapy, and other medical equipment and services in their homes. Members operate more than 3,000 homecare locations in all 50 states. Visit