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Medicare Bidding Program Creates Major Problems for Physicians, Hospitals, and Beneficiaries Seeking Home Medical Equipment
Date:7/8/2008

. This is a dire situation that must be corrected."

Wilson said the situation underscores the urgency for the Senate to approve legislation that would correct problems in the bidding program and delay its implementation for at least 18 months. The Senate is expected to vote on the Medicare bill that contains the reforms to the bidding program, H.R. 6331, as early as Wednesday. The House has already approved the legislation by an overwhelming 355 to 59 margin, with strong bipartisan support. The measure is supported by AAHomecare, as well as the ALS Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the United Spinal Association, among others.

Unless improved, the bidding program will eliminate thousands of qualified providers from Medicare and reduce services and access to care for Medicare beneficiaries. Wilson noted that providers, as well as consumer advocates and other stakeholders have argued that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) were implementing a flawed bidding program that would put Medicare beneficiaries at risk, while failing to deliver on promises that it would increase competition and lower price over the long haul. Two recent economic studies predicted the program would fail to deliver on its promises.

Meanwhile, physicians, such as Dr. Natarajan Rajagopalan, M.D., who is chief of staff at a hospital in Miami-Dade County, are concerned about the consequences for patients. On July 2, Dr. Rajagopalan's hospital placed an order for liquid oxygen for a patient on a high liter flow. Such equipment, he says, is usually delivered by a licensed respiratory therapist, who reports back to the discharging pulmonologist or critical care physician. "We found that none of the companies we called carry liquid oxygen systems," he said. "I found out that with the goal of finding the lowest bidder companies can sub-contract specialized oxygen servic
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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