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Medicare Bidding Program Endangers Patients, Costs Jobs in Pittsburgh, says American Association for Homecare
Date:4/4/2012

se policies and regulations have no idea of the actual impact on the ground. They brag about the savings from the bidding program, but ignore the fact that Medicare and taxpayers are picking up much higher costs in other program areas."

Citing another example, Shirvinsky notes an ongoing issue with repairs for home medical equipment. Bid winners are not required to repair equipment for Medicare beneficiaries after initial warranties run out. This puts a financial burden on non-bid winners, who are frequently asked to perform repairs that Medicare doesn't fully reimburse. Medicare only pays for up to three units of labor time, which amounts to a limit of 45 minutes. The allotted time doesn't include travel to the patient, and rarely does 45 minutes cover the actual labor time for repairs.

Moreover, Shirvinsky says companies have smaller inventories of parts and equipment because they can no longer afford to stock them. "For Medicare patients," he says, "this means a longer time before their equipment can be repaired or delivered. Patients can be confined to bed for days or weeks creating painful skin disorders that can be difficult and costly to treat."  

Even respected national firms are impacted by the bidding program. Omnicare, Inc., a publicly traded company headquartered in Covington, Ky. had operated a facility in Philadelphia and a satellite office in Pittsburgh that were associated with their HME business in the region. But competitive bidding was one of the factors that persuaded them to sell the facilities.

While the provider sector feared the bidding program would present certain perils, it has had many unexpected consequences for businesses.

At Blackburn's, for instance, the company had provided equipment and supplies to a wide-range of customers, including hospitals, nursing homes, physicians, and businesses.  But with the bidding program, many of these customers streamlined their ordering processes.
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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