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American Association for Homecare Recommends Needed Improvements to Medicare Competitive Bidding Program, Set to Begin July 1
Date:6/23/2008

Service Disruptions for Seniors Looms in Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Riverside, Calif., and San Juan, P.R.

ARLINGTON, Va., June 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Association for Homecare recommends a delay to the Medicare competitive bidding program for home medical equipment in order to improve the program and prevent disruptions in the continuity of care for seniors and people with disabilities. Beginning July 1, 2008, the bidding program will affect Medicare patients who use home medical equipment and services such as oxygen therapy, hospital beds, and power wheelchairs. The Association can provide background material and updates on the following topics:

-- How seniors and people with disabilities in Medicare are at risk for disruptions in care, fewer services, and limited access to care once competitive bidding is implemented July 1, 2008.

-- Bi-partisan congressional efforts to delay and improve implementation of the program so needed fixes can be incorporated into the program.

-- Examples of the procedural flaws and operational problems that call into question the fairness of the overall process and the Association's recently filed lawsuit seeking a delay of the bidding program.

-- Effects of the bidding program on homecare providers in the 10 target markets.

To view details and list of consumer and disability organizations that favor changes to the program, visit the American Association for Homecare on the web at http://www.aahomecare.org.

The American Association for Homecare has argued that the proposals to delay the bidding program in order to make needed improvements will be good for Medicare patients, providers, and American taxpayers. Specifically:

-- Taxpayers will recoup all of the savings that the flawed bidding program would have reaped if it had been immediately implemented. The homecare industry agreed to billions of dollars in cuts to pay for the delay.

-- Efforts to delay the bidding program do not delay accreditation requirements. Medicare has allowed fraud to proliferate throughout the Medicare system for decades. Long-overdue accreditation requirements for the homecare sector, advocated by our industry for 30 years, cannot happen soon enough.

-- Serving frail Medicare patients in their homes requires services and other non-equipment costs to ensure quality of care. It is misleading to compare Medicare reimbursement rates for home medical equipment and services with the cost of buying only the medical equipment over the Internet.

The competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2008 in 10 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 program is scheduled to expand to 70 additional areas in the U.S. in 2009.

For more information, including contacts with local providers, please contact:

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

The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) represents providers of durable medical equipment and related services and supplies as well as the manufacturers of that equipment. AAHomecare members serve the medical needs of millions of Americans who require home oxygen equipment, wheelchairs and other mobility products, hospital beds, medical supplies, inhalation drug therapy, home infusion, and other medical equipment, products, and services, delivered in the patient's home. AAHomecare's provider members operate more than 3,000 home care locations in all 50 states. See http://www.aahomecare.org.


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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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