Repeal Competitive Bidding—Please!
From: Home Care MagazineWASHINGTON—Competitive bidding may have started, but the industry hasn’t stopped its efforts to get the program repealed.
On Thursday, the American Association for Homecare sent a letter to leaders in the House of Representatives asking them to include repeal of the DMEPOS bidding program in H.R. 2, the bill that would repeal the entire health care reform law.
The GOP has titled its legislation “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” The AAHomecare letter pounds home the job loss theme in the HME sector under competitive bidding, stating:
“This program will not only harm millions of Medicare beneficiaries in need of medical equipment and services but it will result in the loss of more than 100,000 highly skilled and well paying American jobs …
“The bidding program, which is now being implemented in nine areas across the country but will expand to 91 additional areas later this year, arbitrarily reduces the number of home medical equipment providers able to provide items and services to Medicare beneficiaries. Loss of jobs will be immediate and is already being seen in the nine test areas. According to actual Medicare data, 80 to 90 percent of home medical equipment facilities will be unable to service Medicare beneficiaries. And since Medicare typically makes up 35 to 50 percent of most HME practices, these businesses will be forced to significantly reduce staff or will be forced to close. However, this trend can be reversed if this misguided program is repealed by Congress immediately.”
Insiders acknowledge it’s unlikely the Republican repeal effort will be successful because Democrats won’t pass such a bill through the Senate. Even so, including repeal of competitive bidding in the reform bill repeal is a way to keep the issue front-and-center; AAHomecare believes other Medicare bills proposed during the 112th Congress may ultimately provide a way to stop or modify the program as Republicans try to stop or replace parts of the Affordable Care Act.
Along with the expansion of competitive bidding in Round 2, which CMS has set to be bid this year, the health care reform law includes a number of other provisions affecting HME providers, among them elimination of the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs, a face-to-face exam for all DME and increased surety bond requirements.
The association delivered its letter to newly elected House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The House had scheduled a Jan. 12 vote on the repeal bill, but Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said he had postponed that vote and all others previously scheduled this week. Instead, the House will take up a resolution to honor Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was wounded, and those who died in the Tucson, Ariz., shooting on Saturday.
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