Industry critical of HHS report on medical equipment bidding

From: The Hill

By Julian Pecquet 

Industry groups are lambasting a new government report that found “no significant changes in health outcomes” for Medicare beneficiaries since the agency started competitive bidding for durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs.

Competitive bidding was created by the 2003 Medicare reform law and seeks to replace standard fees with market competition among providers. The American Association for Homecare says patients are being hurt by the competitive bidding program because they’re losing access to the products and services they need.

“In contrast to yesterday’s CMS report that there have been no changes in beneficiary health outcomes resulting from the competitive bidding program,” the trade group said via e-mail, “AAHomecare and other members of the homecare community are hearing a markedly different story from patients and providers affected by the program.”

When lawmakers return from the 4th of July recess, the trade group plans to share a video of a home medical equipment provider in Ohio lambasting the program.  

“I am offended when I hear (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) putting out statements that there are no problems when we’re getting calls on a weekly basis, daily actually, from therapists who we had dealt with as referral sources who don’t know who to go to,” said Jim Kokenge, president and CEO of PAX Medical Supply in Cincinnati.

The report comes as Inside Health Policy reports that debt ceiling negotiators want to cap Medicaid payments for durable medical equipment at Medicare’s competitive bidding rates. The proposal would save $6.2 billion over 10 years, according to the trade publication.

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