Editor’s Note:  From a letter signed by 167 academicians including seveal Nobel laureates regarding CMS’ bidding program for DME: “Implementation of the current design will result in a failed government program.”

From: Pittsburgh Business Times

Kris B. Mamula

As home medical equipment suppliers prepare for the second round of Medicare’s competitive bidding in the Pittsburgh area, some small companies are continuing to protest the program.

AdvaCare Home Services Inc. President and CEO Tammy Zelenko testified in September before the House Committee on Small Business on the shortcomings of competitive bidding, which she called a “job killer.”

“My aim is not to argue against competition,” she told committee members. “Competition breeds medical innovation, improved care and creates well paying jobs in communities across the country.

“However, the competitive bidding program designed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is anti-small business, it’s a job killer and it will negatively impact the quality of care that our nation’s most frail and elderly depend on to remain independent in their homes.”

Pittsburgh was among the first metropolitan areas where the program was rolled out in January 2011 over the objections of the Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers and other groups. In the program, companies bid on supplying patients with hospital beds, walkers, oxygen and other medical equipment in a given area, with the lowest responsible bidders winning the contracts.

Bids for the second round of contracts in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area are due any day and winners will be announced in the spring.

The competitive bidding program was prompted in part by excessive prices for durable medical equipment and a billing error rate of 61 percent, according to CMS. Approximately 51 percent of winning suppliers in the first round were small companies, defined as having annual gross revenue of $3.5 million or less.

As home medical equipment suppliers prepare for the second round of Medicare’s competitive bidding in the Pittsburgh area, some small companies are continuing to protest the program.

AdvaCare Home Services Inc. President and CEO Tammy Zelenko testified in September before the House Committee on Small Business on the shortcomings of competitive bidding, which she called a “job killer.”

“My aim is not to argue against competition,” she told committee members. “Competition breeds medical innovation, improved care and creates well paying jobs in communities across the country.

“However, the competitive bidding program designed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is anti-small business, it’s a job killer and it will negatively impact the quality of care that our nation’s most frail and elderly depend on to remain independent in their homes.”

Pittsburgh was among the first metropolitan areas where the program was rolled out in January 2011 over the objections of the Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers and other groups. In the program, companies bid on supplying patients with hospital beds, walkers, oxygen and other medical equipment in a given area, with the lowest responsible bidders winning the contracts.

Bids for the second round of contracts in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area are due any day and winners will be announced in the spring.

The competitive bidding program was prompted in part by excessive prices for durable medical equipment and a billing error rate of 61 percent, according to CMS. Approximately 51 percent of winning suppliers in the first round were small companies, defined as having annual gross revenue of $3.5 million or less.