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American Association for Homecare Applauds Bill to Delay the Flawed Medicare Bidding Program for Home Medical Equipment
Date:6/16/2008

ARLINGTON, Va., June 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) applauded congressional efforts to pass a bill introduced last week that will delay for at least 18 months the controversial and flawed Medicare competitive bidding program for home medical equipment and services. The bill, H.R. 6252, is titled the "Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Acquisition Reform Act of 2008."

The competitive acquisition or "competitive bidding" program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2008 in ten metropolitan areas: Charlotte, NC; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas - Ft. Worth, Texas; Miami, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Riverside, Calif.; and San Juan, P.R. The bidding program applies to oxygen therapy, mail-order diabetic supplies, power wheelchairs, CPAP equipment, hospital beds, and several other categories of durable medical equipment and services used by Medicare beneficiaries in their homes. The program is scheduled to expand to 70 additional areas in the U.S. in 2009.

The reform bill, H.R. 6252, would delay the program for at least 18 months in order to improve the program. The lead cosponsors are House Ways and Means Committee health subcommittee chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and subcommittee ranking member David Camp (R-Mich.). View the text at http://www.aahomecare.org.

According to a press release issued by Congressmen Stark and Camp, the bill would require the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to "improve the program for both beneficiaries and suppliers. The cost of the delay and accompanying reforms is fully paid for within the DME sector by reducing payment rates for covered items by 9.5 percent nationwide starting in 2009, but provides for an additional increase of 2 percent in 2014."

Congressman Stark stated in the release, "I'm pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill and look forward to working with my colleagues for its swift passage so that the program can be redesigned to meet the needs of patients, providers and taxpayers." He added, "This is no free lunch. This bill requires the DME industry to finance the cost of delaying the program."

In the same press release, Congressman Camp states, "The implementation of this necessary program has been flawed and needed to be fixed. This bill provides us with the time to get the program right and ensure we are reducing costs while protecting beneficiaries in the long run."

In addition to Stark and Camp, other cosponsors of the bill include Ways and Means Chair Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Republican Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-Mich.), Energy and Commerce subcommittee chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and two dozen other Representatives.

American Association for Homecare President Tyler J. Wilson added, "We are grateful for the leadership of Congressmen Stark and Camp on this issue of immense importance to the homecare community. This bill is critical to making important improvements to Medicare policy that will protect America's seniors and people with disabilities who depend on home medical equipment and services in their homes. If allowed to go forward, the bidding program will put thousands of qualified homecare providers out of business and reduce patients' access to quality home medical equipment and services. Homecare is cost-effective and represents the smallest and slowest-growing sector of Medicare. We applaud efforts to preserve quality care in the home."

Organizations supporting H.R. 6252 were listed in the press release issued by Congressmen Stark and Camp. They include:

-- American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

-- American Association for Homecare

-- American Podiatric Medical Association

-- American Society of Transplantation

-- Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Health Task Force

-- Health Industry Distributors of America

-- Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM)

Coalition

-- National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology

-- National Community Pharmacists Association

-- Orthotic and Prosthetic Alliance

-- Pedorthic Footwear Association

-- The Endocrine Society

-- Vision Council of America

-- Wound Ostomy Continence Nurses Society

Contacts: Michael Reinemer, 703-535-1881; michaelr@aahomecare.org; Tilly Gambill, 703-535-1896; tillyg@aahomecare.org

The American Association for Homecare represents providers, equipment manufacturers, and other organizations in the homecare community. Members serve the medical needs of millions of Americans who require oxygen equipment and therapy, mobility assistive technologies, medical supplies, inhalation drug therapy, home infusion, and other medical equipment and services in their homes. Membership includes providers of all sizes operating approximately 3,000 locations in all 50 states. See http://www.aahomecare.org.


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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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