How do you double the cost, cut by half the efficiency and cost Medicare patients more? Let the feds bid on durable medical equipment.
Eight members of Congress from Georgia signed on to a letter written by Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) expressing serious concerns about the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Competitive Bidding Program for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies. Along with a group totaling 218 members of Congress, a bipartisan majority, they called on CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to grant an administrative delay of further implementation of the program through the end of the year.
The group of Representatives from Georgia that signed on to the letter included Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Phil Gingrey, Hank C. Johnson, Jr., Jack Kingston, Tom Price, David Scott, Lynn Westmoreland, and Doug Collins.
“Increased transparency is a must to ensure qualified contractors are not being shut out of the competitive bidding process. A delay of DMEPOS will allow time for these values to be enacted, and a better system can be available for patient care,” said Rep. Doug Collins.
The competitive bidding program, which has been widely condemned by medical providers and healthcare advocates, was initially implemented in nine test markets, but is set to expand to an additional 91 markets in July 2013.
The letter’s signers expressed grave concerns about the program: “As you are most-likely aware, many members of Congress have continued concerns about the lack of transparency, the lack of binding bids during the contract process, and the improper vetting of the financial wherewithal of many firms that have been awarded contracts to service many bid areas far from their current base of operations.” They added, “We are extremely concerned that CMS’s apparent mishandling of this bid process will directly impact Medicare’s ability to serve its beneficiaries in the bid areas.”
Competitive bidding poses a significant threat to Georgia, which has two markets included in the planned expansion, and stands to lose a total of 185 medical provider locations and 1,851 jobs.
Kelly Turner of People for Quality Care commented on the letter: “We are relieved to see that so many members of Congress share our concerns about the impact the expansion of competitive bidding will have on patient care nationwide. This flawed bidding process threatens the ability of medical providers to address the complex needs of their patients, and its expansion will surely result in a loss of choice, access, and security for Medicare beneficiaries. We are hopeful that Administrator Tavenner will heed their call for a bidding system that protects the quality of patient care.”
Reprinted with permission from Zpolitics.com