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New Organization Formed To Save Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers
Date:5/14/2009

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Effective January 1, 2009, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stopped payment to suppliers for oxygen equipment and services when patients reach 36 months (three years) of continuous use. Suppliers continue providing service and supplies to patients for an additional two years without payment, even if the patient relocates to another state.

This flawed policy will negatively impact patients' access to life-sustaining oxygen therapy to treat lung diseases and jeopardizes the ability for independent home medical equipment suppliers to stay in business. Other consequences include higher healthcare costs due to increased emergency room visits and nursing home care. One year of home oxygen service costs less than one day of in-patient care.

In an effort to reverse this bad policy, The Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act of 2009 (HR 2373) was introduced on May 12, 2009. CSI: HME will work with other industry partners and key legislators and their staff to gain co-sponsors and passage of the bill.

Repeal of the Competitive Bidding Program

Competitive bidding is another short-sighted policy where Medicare patients will receive diminished quality of care and denied access to the supplier of their choice with whom they've built a trusted relationship. CMS will award contracts for home medical equipment patient distribution to a limited number of suppliers who are the lowest bidders in selected regions across the country.

The program, which was initially scheduled to begin July 1, 2008 but then postponed by Congressional action last year, will be re-launched in 9 metropolitan areas and gradually expanded to include 70 other areas throughout the country. CMS will begin soliciting bids from suppliers this summer.

This policy will likely have a disastrous effect on patients who are forced to use suppliers far from where they live and wi
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SOURCE Committee to Save Independent HME Suppliers, LLC
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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