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Problems Emerge in Competitive Bidding Pricing Scheme for Home Medical Equipment; Economists Predict the Program Will Fail
Date:12/16/2010

n that the Bidding Program will Fail

Also, 167 leading economists and auction experts, including two Nobel laureates, have warned that Medicare's bidding design for medical equipment will fail.  Over the past two months, the experts have signed letters to congressional leaders criticizing the controversial bidding program.  To view one of the letters, please visit: http://www.cramton.umd.edu/papers2010-2014/comments-of-concerned-auction-experts-on-medicare-bidding-baucus.pdf.

The economic experts, who do not oppose the concept of using a competitive bidding system to set Medicare prices, found that this particular bidding program designed by CMS has alarming flaws that will prevent it from achieving its objectives of low cost and high quality home medical equipment and services for millions of seniors and people with disabilities across the country.

Bidders, the experts noted in their letters, are not bound by their bids, which undermines the credibility of the process. Additionally, the pricing rules encourage "low-ball bids" that will not allow for a sustainable process or healthy pool of equipment suppliers.  Ultimately, the bid design provides "strong incentives to distort bids away from [actual] costs," and lacks transparency that is "unacceptable in a government auction and is in sharp contrast to well-run government auctions."

The economic experts' letter concludes, "This collection of problems suggests that the program over time may degenerate into a 'race to the bottom' in which suppliers become increasingly unreliable, product and service quality deteriorates, and supply shortages become common. Contract enforcement would become increasingly difficult and fraud and abuse would grow… Implementation of the current design will result in a failed government program."

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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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