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Study: Medicare Competitive Bidding Program Could Impede Seniors' Access to Diabetes Testing Supplies
Date:6/18/2008

e most commonly prescribed diabetes testing supplies, or create confusion about where they can obtain the supplies they are currently using to help them manage their diabetes.

The GWU study notes that in contrast to the standards in Medicare Part D and in Medicare Advantage, the competitive bidding program lacks rigorous standards for quality and safety, but instead is focused on price discounts. For example:

-- The only required contracting standards are that amounts paid to winning

entities be expected to be "less than the (current fee

schedule)" and that individuals have a "choice of multiple

suppliers." There are no evidence-based standards for the types of

products being offered.

-- The law setting up the program does require that winning contractors

meet "applicable quality standards." CMS regulations do have

quality standards for the program, but those standards lack specific

marketing guidelines that would require approval of materials before

entry into the marketplace, much like CMS imposes on Part D plans. Among

the patient-focused standards CMS should insist suppliers meet ought to

include materials that meet basic readability standards and toll-free

telephone hotlines with Spanish-speaking options.

The GWU study notes that CMS has not engaged in a major campaign to educate beneficiaries about the changes. "It is unclear how beneficiaries would learn to navigate the market to obtain daily products; indeed, it appears that they are simply expected to respond to aggressive marketing by online firms or through cold calls, precisely the type of aggressive marketing approaches that have raised concerns in other markets," the study says.

The GWU study also noted that when Medicare conducted a demonstration program from 1999-2002 to study competitive bidding, diabetes equipment and supplies were not includ
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SOURCE Diabetes Access to Care Coalition
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