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George Will Column Misguided in Touting 'Competitive Bidding' as a Medicare Solution; Controversial Bidding Program is Actually Anti-Competitive and Lowers Quality of Care and Access to Care for Seniors and Disabled
Date:1/8/2009

hospitals could no longer choose to use a single homecare provider to equip patients returning home, but instead would have to contact as many as 10 different providers for basic items needed by patients.
  • Lower-quality durable medical equipment made overseas.
  • Fewer home visits in rural areas where providers can travel an hour plus to reach the patient.
  • Less access to 24-hour equipment service for patients who depend on oxygen to breathe. Without this service, patients will dial 911 when problems arise.
  • Reduced access to commonly prescribed products. For example, the bidding initiative discourages use of the most commonly prescribed testing strips for diabetes patients.
  • Reduced access to diabetes patient call centers, which answer key medical questions.
  • Fewer resources to properly set up and adjust wheelchairs, walkers, and hospital beds.
  • Restricted ability to properly repair home medical equipment items in a timely manner.
  • Cutbacks in homecare services will increase hospital stays, thereby increasing costs to Medicare and taxpayers. Wilson said, "Homecare represents a clinically proven, cost-effective option that is part of the solution to the nation's healthcare crisis."

    The latest federal data shows that spending on home medical equipment is again the slowest-growing sector in Medicare, with homecare proving to be one of the smallest sectors, constituting $7 billion out of the $431 billion Medicare budget. The latest figures in the National Health Expenditures report published in Health Affairs this month show Medicare spending for home medical equipment increased only 0.9 percent over the previous year for which data is available (2006), while Medicare spending generally increased by a full 6.1 percent.

    A program that selectively contracts with a small group of providers
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    SOURCE American Association for Homecare
    Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
    All rights reserved

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