CLEVELAND, Feb. 10, 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 "competitive" bidding program in Cleveland and Cincinnati. The program affects many of the more than 640,000 seniors and people living with disabilities in Cleveland and Cincinnati who are enrolled in Medicare.
The bidding program began in nine areas on January 1 and is scheduled to begin in an additional 91 regions later this year, including several areas of Ohio where another 760,000 Medicare beneficiaries live, including the Akron, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown, and other metropolitan statistical areas in the state.
The program applies to 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 will severely restrict 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 necessary hospital stays due to confusion in 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 American Association for Homecare has logged more than 175 complaints from patients, providers, and case managers. A half-dozen home medical equipment providers in the Cincinnati and Cleveland areas have already