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Nearly 60 Homecare and Patient Advocacy Groups Urge Congress to Repeal Medicare's "Competitive" Bidding for Home Medical Equipment and Services

Saturday, July 17, 2010 Hospital News J E 4
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In Open Letter to Congressional Leaders, 58 Patient Advocacy Groups and Home Medical Groups Call for End to Bidding Program

ARLINGTON, Va., July 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a letter signed by 58 patient advocacy groups and home medical equipment associations, the American Association for Homecare urged Congress to pass H.R. 3790, a bill to repeal the Medicare competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment in a budget-neutral manner. The bill currently has 252 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. View the letter.

"Our national, state and local organizations believe that this program is fundamentally flawed and will create significant obstacles to patient care while threatening the homecare infrastructure for our nation's seniors and disabled," wrote Tyler J. Wilson, president of the American Association for Homecare in the open letter to Congress. "The home medical equipment (HME) sector is dedicated to working with Congress to ensure H.R. 3790 will replace the troubled bidding program with a series of payment reductions for home medical equipment providers, ensuring that CBO-projected savings are met."

The Medicare bidding program uses economic coercion to force homecare providers to submit unsustainable bids necessary to win a contract that allows the opportunity to continue serving Medicare beneficiaries. Ultimately, the below-market rates achieved through this bidding program will force thousands of home medical equipment businesses to close, reducing competition in the long term and reducing seniors' and patients' access to care and choice of providers.

The program is scheduled to be implemented in January 2011 in nine of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. - Charlotte, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and Riverside, Calif.

Physicians, clinicians, and hospital case managers agree, and predict that Medicare's competitive bidding program will disrupt patient's continuum of care by restricting their access to a majority of suppliers.

Medicare already faces the daunting challenge of preparing for the more than 70 million baby boomers who are about to become Medicare eligible. As America works to address its growing elderly population, the bidding program will shut out nearly 90 percent of homecare providers who currently serve the country's Medicare beneficiaries.

With strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, H.R. 3790 would end the Medicare competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment in a budget-neutral manner, achieving the very same projected Medicare savings as the bidding program.

The letter reiterated providers' concerns that the bidding program will only increase the nation's growing healthcare costs in the long run. By hindering beneficiaries' ability to stay home with trusted medical products and services, the bidding program will force patients to seek more costly hospital visits or nursing homes for care.

Signatories called for passage of the bill to eliminate the bidding program, ensuring preservation of high-quality homecare services and equipment for patients, and preventing the needless closing of HME businesses across the country, which would result in the loss of jobs in an already difficult economy.

Organizations Supporting H.R. 3790, the Bill to Repeal the Medicare Bidding Program for Home Medical Equipment and Services:

The American Association for Homecare represents durable medical equipment providers, manufacturers, and other organizations in the homecare community. Members serve the medical needs of millions of Americans who require oxygen equipment and therapy, mobility assistive technologies, medical supplies, inhalation drug therapy, home infusion, and other medical equipment and services in their homes. The Association's members operate more than 3,000 homecare locations in all 50 states. Visit www.aahomecare.org.

1. Accessible Home Improvement of America 2. Accredited Medical Equipment Providers of America 3. Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association 4. The ALS Association 5. American Association for Homecare 6. American Association of People with Disabilities 7. Arizona Medical Equipment Suppliers Association 8. Association of Indiana Home Medical Equipment Suppliers 9. Big Sky Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers 10. California Association of Medical Equipment Product Suppliers 11. Cerebral Palsy Association of Ohio 12. Colorado Association for Medical Equipment Services 13. Committee to Save Independent HME Suppliers, LLC 14. Florida Alliance of Home Care Services 15. Georgia Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers 16. Health Industry Distributors Association 17. Home Care Alliance of Virginia, Inc. 18. Illinois Association for Medical Equipment Services 19. Jersey Association of Medical Equipment Services 20. Kentucky Medical Equipment Suppliers Association 21. Ms. Wheelchair Virginia 22. Maryland National Capital Homecare Association 23. The MED Group 24. The MED Group- Respiratory Network 25. The MED Group- Rehab Network 26. Medical Equipment Suppliers Association 27. Michigan Home Health Association 28. Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services 29. Muscular Dystrophy Association 30. National Association for Home Care & Hospice 31. National Association for the Support of Long Term Care 32. National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers 33. National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology 34. National Council on Independent Living 35. National Emphysema/COPD Association 36. National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers 37. National Spinal Cord Injury Association 38. Nationwide Respiratory 39. Nevada Association of Medical Product Suppliers 40. New England Medical Equipment Dealers Association 41. New York Medical Equipment Providers Association 42. North Carolina Association for Medical Equipment Services 43. Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services 44. Ohio Council for Home Care and Hospice 45. Orthotics Prosthetics Groups of America 46. Pacific Association for Medical Equipment Services 47. Partners in Healthcare of Virginia, LLC 48. Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers 49. South Carolina Medical Equipment Suppliers Association 50. Texas Alliance of Homecare Services 51. U.S. Rehab 52. United Spinal Association 53. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center 54. VGM & Associates 55. The VGM Group, Inc. 56. Virginia Association of Durable Medical Equipment Companies 57. West Virginia Medical Equipment Suppliers Association 58. Wisconsin Association of Medical Equipment Services

SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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