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Discussion of Medicare's 'Competitive' Bidding Program for Home Medical Equipment is Plagued by Myths and Misinformation
Date:3/16/2010

ARLINGTON, Va., March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Medicare has been touting the merits of the "competitive" bidding program for durable, or home medical equipment and services (HME) to convince Congress that the program is good for seniors. Unfortunately, proponents have conveyed misleading information and cherry-picked facts that exaggerate the benefits and ignore the severe shortcomings of the program.

MYTH #1: The bidding program is good for beneficiaries because it will significantly reduce cost-sharing requirements.

REALITY: Patient copayments for home medical equipment have fallen dramatically for many years along with decreasing home medical equipment reimbursement rates.  A bipartisan bill in the House, H.R. 3790, would eliminate the bidding program in a fiscally responsible manner by reducing home medical reimbursements to offset savings that the bid program would have realized. So the effect of that bill, which has 179 cosponsors so far, would be a further reduction in copayments for Medicare patients. Moreover, most beneficiaries have Medigap policies that cover copayments, so insurance companies will be the primary beneficiary of the lower copayments. More importantly, low copayments come at a great cost in terms of reduced access and service. The bidding program will trigger a race to the bottom in terms of care for seniors and people with disabilities.  The bid program will ultimately increase doctor visits, hospital stays, an
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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