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WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Citing reduced access to care and higher costs, two dozen consumer and patient advocacy organizations sent a letter of thanks this week to Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) for introducing H.R. 1041, a bipartisan bill to repeal the controversial Medicare "competitive" bidding program for home medical equipment and services (HME).  To read the full letter and to see the full list of supporting organizations, visit www.aahomecare.org.    

Among the groups signing the letter are the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and the National Family Caregivers Association.  Titled the "Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act," H.R. 1041 was introduced on March 11 and has already gained 53 cosponsors, including 30 Republicans and 23 Democrats.

The Medicare bidding program applies to home medical equipment and services, such as 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.  The bidding program was implemented on January 1, 2011 in nine metropolitan areas including Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and Riverside, California. The program is scheduled to expand to an additional 91 areas later this year.

The letter underscores the challenges that Medicare beneficiaries and homecare providers face as a result of Medicare's controversial bidding program. The letter states:

"The competitive bidding program is a fundamentally flawed pricing mechanism that will create significant obstacles to quality patient care and needed services while threatening the homecare infrastructure for our nation's seniors and persons with disa

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