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Medicare Patients Report Problems With Access to Medically Required Equipment and Services Under Controversial 'Competitive' Bidding System
Date:2/2/2011

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2., 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After the January 1 implementation of Medicare's controversial "competitive" bidding program in nine regions across the U.S., Medicare patients are reporting problems receiving home medical equipment and services that were prescribed by their physicians.

The bidding program was implemented on January 1 in nine metropolitan regions: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and Riverside, California. The program is scheduled to start up in another 91 regions later this year.  The bidding program affects millions of Medicare beneficiaries who require oxygen therapy, enteral nutrients (tube feeding), continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) and respiratory assistive devices, power wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds and support surfaces, and mail-order diabetic supplies.

By design, this new Medicare program severely restricts the number of companies that are allowed to provide the equipment and services subject to bidding.  Since the bidding program began on January 1, patients, clinicians, and homecare providers have reported:

  • Difficulty finding a local equipment or service provider;
  • Delays in obtaining medically required equipment and services;
  • Longer than necessary hospital stays due to trouble discharging patients to home-based care;
  • Far fewer choices for patients when selecting equipment or providers;
  • Reduced quality; and
  • Confusing or incorrect information provided by Medicare.

The Association has logged more than 100 complaints during the first four weeks since the bid program was implemented, including dozens from patients.  Among those complaints are the following:

  • A CPAP user in the Orlando area could not find the right supplies from the reduced number of local providers contracted un
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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