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Delay of Medicare Bidding Program for Home Medical Equipment Underscores Severe Problems with Program; Support Surges for Bipartisan Bill to Repeal the Bid Program

Wed, 05/04/2011 - 8:40am
Bio-Medicine.Org

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The delay in round two of Medicare's controversial "competitive" bidding program for home medical equipment and services underscores that program's severe design flaws. Opposition to the program continues to build among patient and consumer groups and among members of Congress where one fifth of the House of Representatives has gone on record favoring repeal of the program.

"The federal government's announcement last month about the delayed timeline for implementation of a second round of bidding is the clearest signal yet that there are failings built right into the bidding system," said Tyler J. Wilson, president of the American Association for Homecare.

The bidding program will affect millions of Medicare beneficiaries nationwide 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.  

As designed by the federal agency that runs Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Medicare bidding program severely and arbitrarily restricts the number of companies that are allowed to provide those types of home medical equipment and services that are subject to bidding.  As 167 economists and auction experts noted in a letter to Congress last year, the bidding system is deeply flawed and will produce unsustainable pricing and a "race to the bottom" in terms of healthcare.

In March, 2011, Congressmen Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) introduced H.R. 1041, a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would repeal this bidding program.  So far that bill has 88 cosponsors – one out of five Representatives – with broad support from both Republicans and Democrats.

Rep. Thompson stated, "Auction and bidding experts have resoundingly

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