Bi-Partisan Legislation Introduced Would Repeal Controversial Medicare 'Competitive Bidding' Requirements for Home Medical Equipment
HARRISBURG, Pa., March 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers (PAMS) today applauded legislation introduced by Congressmen Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-Centre) and Jason Altmire, (D-Allegheny) that would repeal Medicare's controversial competitive bidding program for home medical equipment. H.R. 1041, titled the "Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act," is already endorsed by numerous patient groups and consumer organizations, including the Three Rivers Council on Independent Living and United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh.
"We are an industry that supports robust competition. But the use of the term 'competitive' is hardly descriptive of what this program actually does," said John Shirvinsky, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers (PAMS). "At best, the term is perversely applied."
"From the very beginning, we believed CMS's bid program to be poor healthcare policy," said Georgie Blackburn of BLACKBURN'S Physicians Pharmacy Inc.
The bidding program was implemented on January 1, 2011, in nine metropolitan areas across the U.S. and will expand to an additional 91 areas later this year. Medicare beneficiaries who live in Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and Riverside, California are affected by this program now. The bidding applies to medically required 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.
Shirvinsky maintains that the Medicare bidding scheme is designed to eliminate the vast majority of competitors from the Medicare market. "You cannot eliminate 80-90 percent of competitors and expect to arrive at a competitive outcome. It's fundamental: Competition requires competitors. Competition also requir