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

es through un-accredited companies. They are not required to have the equipment set-up by or have the patient trained or evaluated by a respiratory therapist."

In a letter to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) asking that he support the legislation to reform and suspend the bidding program, Dr. Rajagopalan said that in another case, his office manager placed a call with a bid winner before noon last Thursday for oxygen equipment. She was told that the equipment could be delivered either the next day, or the day after.

"Typically oxygen is delivered to a patient in hours not days," Dr. Rajagopalan wrote. "That policy will create countless problems for our hospital and the other hospitals in the area. We cannot wait days for equipment to be delivered to the hospital or to the patient's home before they are discharged. The hospital needs the patient's room and we are unable to bill Medicare additional days for a hospital stay."

Furthermore, Dr. Rajagopalan wrote, "In the past local providers competed for our business by working with case mangers to help us with these sensitive issues. Today the lowest bid is costing the hospital in the form of increased hours by case managers, juggling multiple bid winners trying to coordinate the discharge of a single patient. If a patient requires a hospital bed, walker, enteral tube feeding, therapeutic ventilation and oxygen case managers may have to coordinate with 5 separate bid winners to get the patient home."

Another physician, Dr. Seth Gottlieb, of Miami, is also upset at the new process. Last week, he wrote a letter to Sen. Martinez, saying, " The competitive bidding program in home medical equipment is only a few days old and it has already caused major delays and problems for my staff and the discharge coordinators at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach."

In his letter, Dr. Gottlieb noted that nine of the oxygen providers that won bids in the area do not have the necessary licenses from
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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