Monday, April 8, 2013

Small Business Perspective on the Bidding Program, Part 4: Where Are Our Statesmen? and The Solution

You’ve heard plenty about the extraordinary challenges that Medicare’s competitive bidding program will cause for home medical equipment providers in our first three chapters of this series:
Today, Mark Richardson offers a better alternative to CMS’ unsustainable and poorly designed scheme.

Where are Our Statesmen?

I get it that Congress has to delegate the administration of the Medicare Program to CMS.  But I don’t think Congress wanted to devastate an entire industry when it mandated CMS to implement a Competitive Bidding Program for the home medical equipment industry.  So when CMS goes too far, and fails to use conventionally accepted auction processes—and instead creates a system which all the experts agree will fail—who’s responsibility is it to step in and protect our homecare businesses, our employees, and ultimately Medicare beneficiaries?

Of course the answer is, our Statesmen and Stateswomen.  In these dark hours for homecare, we need our Congress to come forward and fix this.  We need them to deliver a fair solution for all—not just hide behind the CMS promises of easy cost-savings.  Of course CMS is promising cost-savings with reductions of 45%!  But at what cost?  The devastation of an entire industry?

The Solution

By and large, Congress has been deaf to the pleas of our industry because they want to believe the easy claims of CMS that Medicare is saving money with their “Competitive Bidding Program”.  And in this day and age, it seems Congress will grasp at any straw that technically allows spending cuts, whether it’s right or not (big example: Sequestration).  However, there have been a few statesmen that have come forward with a way of deliverance for our industry.  Congressman Tom Price (R-Ga.), a physician who understands the Home Medical Equipment industry, along with 184 other members of Congress who have co-sponsored legislation with him in the last session of Congress, are dedicated to stopping the current bidding program and replacing it with an economist-created alternative bidding program called the Market Pricing Program (MPP).  This legislation is budget neutral and will require CMS to make some fundamental changes to ensure that a financially sustainable program results and layoffs and closings will not be the order of the day in the Home Medical Equipment industry.  It is supported by all of the industry’s stakeholders and all of the national associations representing the industry.

My hopes and certainly no less than the hopes of our entire industry are pinned to this MPP legislation.  Please tell your Congressmen to support it, get it to the floor, and then vote for it.  Tell them to be Statesmen because that’s what we need in times like these.  We need them to implement a competitive bidding process that actually supports a robust provider community that partners with CMS to produce savings for the Medicare program—not the current one-sided, adversarial process that does nothing but dictate artificially low prices to a noble  industry that’s already under siege.

AAHomecare thanks Mark Richardson, owner of Home MediService in Havre de Grace, MD, for sharing his perspectives and passion.  We urge you to do the same at and learn more about what you can do to Help Save Homecare today!

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