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Medicare Bidding Program for Durable Medical Equipment May Harm Small Businesses and Decrease Patient Access to Care, Say 137 Members of Congress
Date:3/19/2008

ARLINGTON, Va., March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yesterday, bipartisan groups of 120 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 17 U.S. Senators sent letters to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) raising concerns about the impact of a new Medicare competitive bidding program on small durable medical equipment (DME) providers. The letters ask CMS to release data on how the bidding program will impact thousands of small providers.

"Although CMS and the Small Business Administration raised special considerations for small suppliers during the rulemaking process, we continue to believe that these steps will not guarantee adequate participations for small businesses," the House letter stated. "This will result in a number of small medical device providers going out of business, severely impacting patient access to necessary equipment and quality care."

In addition to asking for economic data on the bidding program's impact, the House letter expressed concern about CMS's plan to initiate the second round of contract awards. The second round will take place in 70 areas across the nation in 2009, before the first round has been fully implemented and before first-round results can be properly evaluated.

The Senate letter suggested that reducing the number of small DME providers could actually increase rather than decrease Medicare costs. "Small suppliers pay close attention to local, specialized service as a commonsense means of reducing medical errors, equipment-related injuries, and returned equipment. This in turn reduces Medicare costs."

The House effort to gather support for the letter was led by U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire (D-Pa.). Co-signers included House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). The effort behind the Senate letter was led by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio). See http://www.aahomecare.org for full te
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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