Health Care Watchdog Bites Seniors

From: Watchdog Watch

by Winston

The National Coalition for Health Care (NCHC), which describes itself as “America’s oldest, most diverse, and broadest based group working to achieve comprehensive health system reform,” has turned against America’s Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

More specifically, NCHC has release a major policy statement calling for an expansion of CMS’ bidding program to include “categories of durable medical equipment not included in the current program, including items such as nebulizers and ventilators.” NCHC also called for applying CMS’ Medicare bidding prices to Medicaid.

Noted regulatory watchdog the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) responded to the NCHC statement by sending a letter to the organization’s President and CEO explaining that they “don’t understand NCHC’s support for expanding CMS’ new DME acquisition program because, to paraphrase what Voltaire said about the Holy Roman Empire, the CMS competitive bidding program is neither competitive nor an auction nor sustainable.”

CRE cited the letter signed by 244 distinguished academicians which stated that the CMS program “is the antithesis of science and contradicts all that is known about proper market design.” In their letter, the academicians explain that the bidding program’s “complete lack of transparency is inappropriate for a government auction.” The letter goes on to state that “As a result of this lack of transparency, it is now clear that the CMS design is not an auction at all but an arbitrary pricing process.”

Given NCHC’s past support for transparency in the healthcare market, CRE was perplexed by the NGO’s current support for the utterly non-transparent and arbitrary DME bidding program.

CRE’s communication also noted the study performed by researchers at CalTech and published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics which concluded that “The CMS auction fails to generate competitive prices of goods and fails to satisfy demand.”

The purpose of CRE’s letter was to inquire why NCHC is “supporting expansion of a DME acquisition program that, according to virtually every independent expert who has analyzed it, does not produce competitive results, is not transparent, and faces ‘a near certainty of failure’?”

CRE has promised to print NCHC’s response, verbatim, on their Competitive Bidding Blog.

See CRE’s letter to NCHC

See Inside Health Policy article about CRE’s letter

Leave a Reply