HELENA, Mont., April 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The association representing Montana's providers of home medical equipment and services supports a new, bipartisan bill in Congress to repeal the controversial Medicare "competitive" bidding program for home medical equipment and services.
"It is imperative that H.R. 1041 pass if we are to maintain the health of both Medicare patients and local businesses in Montana," said Mike Calcaterra, Montana state chairman and legislative chair for the Big Sky Association of Home Medical Equipment Suppliers. "We are already seeing local Montana suppliers exit markets and close their shops due to competitive bidding, which hasn't even been implemented in the state yet, and other changes made to the Medicare and Medicaid system. If this continues, we are going to see more problems occur as patients will face disruptions in services that will affect their health."
The bidding program affects 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. The program was implemented on January 1 in nine metropolitan areas and it begins in an additional 91 areas later this year. The first nine areas are Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and Riverside, California.
"Medicare officials have not listened to homecare providers. They implemented this bidding program against not only our advice but against the advice of patient advocacy groups and economists and experts who specialize in auction markets who believe this program is fatally flawed," said Calcaterra. "If Congress does not pass this bill, the bidding program will continue to harm the health of America's most vulnerable populations, pu