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Homecare Associations Nationwide Urge Policymakers to Rescind Controversial Medicare 'Competitive' Bidding Rule
Date:4/13/2009

flaws in the bidding program, Congress voted to reform and delay the program as part of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), enacted on July 15, 2008. CMS published an interim final rule on the bidding program on January 16, 2009, and that rule will be implemented on April 18, 2009, unless it is rescinded.

MIPPA addressed several near-term concerns with the program, but thoughtful and deliberate rulemaking by CMS was clearly expected by Congress, given the overwhelming level of congressional and stakeholder concern during initial implementation. The intent behind the MIPPA provisions on bidding was for CMS to correct the fundamental flaws of Round One of bidding, allowing for feedback from stakeholders through a comment period before CMS issued a final rule. This process did not take place and the flaws in the bidding program remain.

As currently designed, this bidding program will lower quality and reduce access to care for seniors and people with disabilities. Moreover, it will reduce competition, eliminating up to 90 percent of home medical equipment businesses in any market area where it is implemented. Many of these practices are small businesses already struggling under the current economic recession.

This bidding program allows the government to selectively contract with only a small fraction of current homecare providers, forcing out DME companies that provide high-quality equipment or provide critical patient services. Competitive bidding, which would ultimately drive national reimbursement rates, ignores the critical role of services required to provide care to people in their homes. It will result in fewer resources for service-related activities that patients and physicians have come to expect, which allow people to remain in their homes. The program does not adequately account for providers' ability to serve a geographic market. The program will produ
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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