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Medicare Bidding Program for Charlotte, N.C. is Plagued by Errors, Says American Association for Homecare
Date:4/7/2008

Bidding Program Will Put Durable Medical Equipment Providers Out of Business and Disrupt Services to as Many as 174,000 of Seniors in the Charlotte Area

ARLINGTON, Va., April 7, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new Medicare bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME) scheduled to be implemented in the Charlotte, Gastonia, and Concord areas of North Carolina on July 1, 2008, will put many DME providers out of business and could disrupt services for many of the 174,319 seniors and people with disabilities in the area who are eligible for Medicare.

In late March, DME providers in North Carolina 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 at least 10 cases of improperly disqualified bidders in the Charlotte, Gastonia, and Concord areas.

"I am hearing story after story of providers who were unfairly disqualified," said Beth Bowen, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Medical Equipment Services. "In providers' follow-up conversations with the proper authorities, they seem to get no help and those who did receive contracts are skeptical about not only the pricing but the language used in those contracts."

The congressionally mandated competitive bidding program was designed to reduce the number of homecare 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 Med
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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