Seniors in Dallas-Fort Worth Report Problems Obtaining Needed Home Medical Equipment Services under Controversial Medicare Bidding Program
DALLAS, Feb. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Medicare beneficiaries are reporting problems receiving medically required home medical equipment and services following the January 1, 2011 implementation of Medicare's new "competitive" bidding program in nine regions across the U.S., including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where 565,000 Medicare beneficiaries live.
The bidding program is scheduled to start up in an additional 91 areas later this year including six metropolitan areas in Texas – Austin, Beaumont, El Paso, Houston, McAllen, and San Antonio – where more than 850,000 Medicare beneficiaries live.
The bidding program will affect seniors and people living with disabilities covered by Medicare 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.
"Medicare's competitive bidding program works against the best interests of the patient by eliminating the access to care that beneficiaries require," said Barry Johnson, president of the Texas Alliance of Home Care Services. "For instance, in Dallas-Fort Worth, we had 300 oxygen providers prior to competitive bidding implementation. Now, as a result of the program, the area will have only a maximum of 52 providers to service this entire area." More than 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Texas depend on home oxygen therapy.
By design, this new Medicare program severely restricts the number of companies that are allowed to provide the equipment and services subject to bidding, which hurts both patients and providers. Since January 1, patients, clinicians, and homecare providers have already reported:
- Difficulty finding a local equipment or service provider;
- Delays in obtaining medically required equipment and services;
- Longer than necessa