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Medicare Bidding Program in Kansas City is Plagued by Problems, Says American Association for Homecare
Date:4/4/2008

Bidding Program Will Put Home Medical Equipment Providers out of Business and Disrupt Services to as Many as a Quarter Million Seniors and Disabled People in Kansas City Area

ARLINGTON, Va., April 4, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new Medicare bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME) scheduled to be implemented in the Kansas City metropolitan statistical area on July 1, 2008, will put many DME providers out of business and will likely disrupt services for many of the 225,000 seniors and people with disabilities eligible for Medicare in the Kansas City area.

Last Friday, DME providers in the first ten competitive bidding regions 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 cases of disqualified bidders in the Kansas City area.

The congressionally mandated competitive bidding program was designed to reduce the number of DME 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 Medicare and reimbursement rates for oxygen have already been cut by nearly 50 percent over the past 10 years. The DME industry has long argued that this new program will needlessly punish established, high-quality providers, reduce the DME industry's focus on service, and harm patient access to care.

"There will be many issues with patient access to care," said Rose Schafhauser, executive director
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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