• FAMES and FAHCS Discuss Competitive Bidding Concerns with CMS Deputy Administrator Blum

    From: VGM

    The Florida Association of Medical Equipment Services (FAMES) and the Florida Alliance of Home Care Services (FAHCS) met with CMS Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum on Feb. 23 in a “listening session” to discuss the competitive bidding program. According to FAMES, the entire session was spent discussing the issues and problems that have occurred since the implementation of Round One. FAHCS also reported that it seemed that Blum used the session to collect data to improve Round Two of the program.

    Below are the updates as they reported to their respective members. VGM thanks both FAMES and FAHCS for sharing their information about the meeting.

  • NewsPoll: Providers weighing Round 2 pros and cons

    From: HME News

    By Theresa Flaherty Managing Editor

    YARMOUTH, Maine – Ready or not, competitive bidding is coming around again, and providers in Round 2 areas must decide whether to participate.

    In the most recent HME NewsPoll, 75% of respondents located in a Round 2 competitive bidding area said they planned to submit a bid.

    “I’ve committed my life to this business, and unfortunately, Medicare is a necessary evil,” said Lori Sears, owner of Active Home Medical Supply in Lapeer, Mich. “We will focus on becoming more efficient and trying to find easier ways to stay informed.”

  • In brief: Watchdog group pushes bidding review

    From: HME News

    WASHINGTON – The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Tuesday requesting that the department place the “highest” priority on reviewing the competitive bidding program. President Obama on Jan. 18 issued an executive order, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” which seeks examples of problematic rules. In its letter, the CRE said the competitive bidding rule will result in a loss of jobs, create needless burdens, strips beneficiaries of freedom of choice and violates accepted auction principles.

    Editor’s Note:  CRE’s letter may be found here

  • CRE Letter to HHS: Adhere to the President’s Regulatory Initiative by Reforming Competitive Bidding

    CRE has sent a letter to the General Counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services stating that “HHS needs to provide highest priority to conducting a retrospective review of CMS’ Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Competitive Bidding regulations” under President Obama’s Executive Order 13563.

    The letter explains that the DME competitive bidding regulations contradict “the President’s regulatory goals by needlessly sacrificing thousands of small businesses and tens of thousands of jobs.” 

    The President wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in this country. We need to make sure nothing stands in their way.”  CRE wrote that “CMS competitive bidding rule stands squarely in the way of saving tens of thousands of small business and their jobs.”

  • Obama Budget Lands DME Sucker Punch

    From: Home Care Magazine

    WASHINGTON — With a proposal that would limit federal Medicaid payments to Medicare’s competitive bidding rates, President Obama’s 2012 budget left home care advocates reeling after its Monday morning release. A second proposal would require prepayment review for all power wheelchairs.

    Overall, the administration budget would wrench a reported $62 billion from government health programs to offset a Medicare “doc fix,” delaying a scheduled 25 percent physician pay cut until the end of 2013.

    Responding in an afternoon message to its members, the American Association for Homecare said the budget tightens the squeeze on an “already strapped” industry and “puts home medical equipment at risk.”

  • New System Limits Medicare Patients’ Provider Choices

    From: WSOCTV.com/Channel 9 Charlotte

    About a quarter-million people in the Charlotte area are Medicare patients, and many of them have been or will be affected by a new system that significantly limits their provider choices for certain services.

    Members of Congress, caretakers and patients are already raising red flags, claiming the new system is flawed.

    Marilyn Graham said she is concerned about how well Medicare patients will be able to navigate the new system. She has a condition called sleep apnea and uses a continuous positive airway pressure machine — known as a CPAP machine — to help her breathe at night.

  • Brown Sticks by Study: Bidding Kills Jobs, Access in Rural Areas

    From: Home Care Magazine

    It’s the ‘regulatory process run amok,’ says VGM’s Gallagher

    WATERLOO, Iowa — According to VGM VP John Gallagher, a CMS official who pooh-poohed economist Ken Brown’s study of the impact of competitive bidding on rural areas may need to wipe some egg off his face. Only weeks into the project, Gallagher said, the negative effects are already being seen.

    “People have gone out of business because of credit issues, we’ve lost probably six members in the competitive bidding areas and several outside,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for the Waterloo, Iowa-based member services group.