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84 Members of Congress, Led by Rep. Betty Sutton, Urge Policymakers to Rescind Controversial Medicare 'Competitive' Bidding Rule Before April 18 Deadline
Date:4/16/2009

o rescind the rule so that all affected parties will have an opportunity to comment on it as a proposed regulation.

In the initial implementation of the durable medical equipment competitive bidding program, many questions were raised as to the immediate impact of the program on quality and access to care for patients. Of particular concern was the immediate elimination of thousands of eligible providers throughout the country from the Medicare program. Of the more than 4,000 providers in the initial bidding area, only 376 were deemed to have met the bidding program requirements, which were not clearly defined by CMS and its contractor. As growing numbers of seniors enter the Medicare program, it is important that we take care to maintain an adequate number of qualified and capable providers to address demand for care in the home, especially in rural areas.

The agency's stated rationale in its interim final rule for not electing to pursue the traditional notice and comment rulemaking was that the statutory language was highly prescriptive and it would be redundant to propose a rule to incorporate the words of a provision already contained in statute. In fact, we remain concerned that many of the recommended changes designed to prevent future access problems and confusion in the competitive bid process were not incorporated or even raised for public comment. Any final rulemaking on this program should at a minimum provide assurances that the alleged discrepancies between information submitted by bidders and received by CMS will not again result in the unfair disqualification, without appeal, of longstanding companies in our states who have offered quality homecare for decades. CMS also needs to ensure that its contractor is consistently and properly applying the standards established to qualify suppliers for participation in the program, notably a supplier's demonstrated capacity to serve a given area and patient population.

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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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