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132 Members of Congress Urge One-Year Delay in Controversial Medicare Bidding Program for Home Medical Equipment
Date:6/3/2008

ARLINGTON, Va., June 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yesterday, nearly one-third of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged a one-year delay in the controversial and flawed "competitive bidding" program for home medical equipment in Medicare.

Two letters signed by 132 members of Congress urge the leaders of the Ways and Means Committee and its subcommittee on health to "delay implementation of this program until outstanding issues can be resolved." The letters cite homecare providers that were excluded from the bidding program "apparently through no fault of their own," discrepancies in information and contract awards, and lack of transparency at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about the evaluation of bids and the calculation of reimbursement rates.

The bidding program applies to oxygen therapy, power wheelchairs, hospital beds, and several other categories of durable medical equipment and services used by beneficiaries in the home. The first round of the program is scheduled for implementation on July 1, 2008 in 10 metropolitan areas in the United States: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Riverside, and San Juan. The program is scheduled to expand to 70 additional areas in 2009.

The letters conclude, "At the very least, an internal review should be conducted to ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of the criteria for future bidding. We all agree that it is of the utmost importance that we protect access to quality medical supplies for all of Medicare beneficiaries and people with disabilities. Therefore, we urge that the implementation of Round 1 be delayed for at least a year."

The primary authors of the letters are Congressmen John Tanner (D-Tenn.), David Hobson (R-Ohio), and Jason Altmire (D-Pa.). For the text and list of signatories, see http://www.aahomecare.org.

Tyler J. Wi
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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