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Errors Plague Medicare 'Competitive Bidding' Program in Ohio, Says American Association for Homecare
Date:4/4/2008

Program Will Put Medical Equipment Providers Out of Business and Disrupt Services to as Many as a Half Million Seniors and Disabled People in Ohio

ARLINGTON, Va., April 4, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new Medicare bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME) scheduled to be implemented in the Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio areas on July 1, 2008, will put many DME providers out of business and will likely disrupt services for many of the 540,000 seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare who require DME services at home.

Last Friday, DME providers in the first ten competitive bidding regions received letters from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) explaining whether they had been offered a contract, been disqualified from bidding, or bid outside of the bidding range for a product. Those DME providers that did not receive contracts for a given Medicare item or service are shut out of the Medicare program for three years.

The American Association for Homecare has received word from hundreds of DME providers who say they have been improperly disqualified and thereby removed by CMS from the bidding process. That includes more than 10 documented cases of disqualified bidders in the Cincinnati and Cleveland areas.

The congressionally mandated competitive bidding program was designed to reduce the number of DME providers and reduce reimbursement rates for oxygen therapy, hospital beds, wheelchairs, and other types of home-based equipment and care in Medicare. Reimbursement rates are already set by Medicare and reimbursement rates for oxygen have already been cut by nearly 50 percent over the past 10 years. The DME industry has long argued that this new program will needlessly punish established, high-quality providers, reduce the DME industry's focus on service, and harm patient access to care.

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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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